Libyan govt forces identify Gaddafi whereabouts: TV
Updated: 2011-09-04 23:05
CAIRO - Forces of Libya's National Transitional Council have identified the whereabouts of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, an Al Jazeera television correspondent reported on Sunday.
The reporter quoted the head of the military council in Tripoli, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, but Al Jazeera did not identify the location.
Latest development in Libya:
Libyans say about to take Gaddafi bastion
NORTH OF BANI WALID/TRIPOLI, Libya - Libya's interim council said it hoped to seize one of Muammar Gaddafi's last strongholds without resistance on Sunday as it pursues its drive to assert control over the whole country.
Outside the pro-Gaddafi town of Bani Walid, a National Transitional Council (NTC) negotiator said talks were over.
"Everything was done yesterday, they asked us for more time and we gave them some more hours," Mahmoud Abdul Azil told Reuters, at a checkpoint 40 km (25 miles) from the desert town.
"Today, God willing, we will go in. There was some fighting overnight. They fired at us first."
Abdul Azil said NATO-backed NTC forces were just 10 km from Bani Walid and inching forward, ready to attack what he said were an estimated 100 pro-Gaddafi fighters there if necessary.
"We are waiting for the order for our commanders to go into the city. We have told them we are coming. Everyone should stay at home. Hopefully it will be done without bloodshed," he said, as warplanes of the Western alliance roared overhead.
Anti-Gaddafi forces have also closed in on the deposed leader's birthplace in the coastal city of Sirte, but appear ready to allow more time for negotiations there.
"With God's grace, we are in a position of strength. We can enter any city ... but because of our care and desire to prevent bloodshed and avoid more destruction to national institutions we have given a period of one week," NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Aziz said in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday.
"This is an opportunity for these cities to announce their peaceful joining of the revolution," he said.
A spokesman for Gaddafi, who has been in hiding since his foes seized Tripoli on Aug. 23, has dismissed talk of surrender and said powerful tribal leaders were still loyal to him.
"He's in the country," Moussa Ibrahim told Reuters on Friday in a call from an undisclosed location. "He's in a safe place surrounded by many people who are prepared to protect him."
Ibrahim, who said he did not know exactly where Gaddafi was, dismissed suggestions that Bani Walid was ready to surrender. He said he himself had beenmoving around a "southern suburb of Tripoli" with Gaddafi's son and heir-apparent Saif al-Islam.
CLOSING IN ON SIRTE
On frontlines to the east and west of Sirte, fighters also said on Saturday they were ready to move in.
Ahmed al-Amal, a unit commander to the west, said: "Refugees coming out of Sirte have told us there's no food, fuel, water or electricity in the city. Gaddafi families in Sirte are forcing civilians to obey. They are mistreating them. A lot of people are angry and fed up."
Independent accounts from Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha, deep in the Sahara desert, have not been available as communications appear to be largely cut off. On Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on all sides to protect civilians and allow the agency to provide aid to Sirte.
To the east of Sirte, whose resistance still effectively divides the country in two between Benghazi and Tripoli, fighters were also dug in and, they said, ready to advance.
"We are awaiting the green light from the council," said Naji al-Maghrabi, commander of the "Omar al-Mukhtar Brigade", named for a Libyan hero of battles against Italian colonialists.
"If they tell us, 'Move into Sirte now,' we will."
One fighter, Belqassem Souliman, said: "They have no way out but to surrender or die."
Libyans are looking ahead to the post-war future, negotiating with foreign governments and planning to resume the oil and gas exports that many expect to make them rich.
Interim oil minister Ali Tarhouni said oil production in the Misla and Sarir fields would start on Sept. 12 or 13.
In Tripoli, life was returning to normal after last month's fighting and last week's Muslim holiday. Traffic was heavy as fuel supplies improved. Cafes were busy and offices opened.
On Saturday evening, many celebrated not only new freedoms but the victory of the national soccer team in a qualifying match for the African Cup of Nations. Flying Libya's new flag, they beat Mozambique 1-0 in a "home" fixture played in Cairo.
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