Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Rebel fighters look through an album they found inside Muammar Qaddafi's compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli on Wednesday.
Sergey Ponomarev STF
Rebel fighters look through an album they found inside Muammar Qaddafi's compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Reward offered for Qaddafi, dead or alive

Rebels in Tripoli scour tunnels at Qaddafi's compound for fugitive leader while the head of the NTC says anyone who kills him will be given amnesty.

TRIPOLI, LIBYA // A defiant Col Muammar Qaddafi evaded capture for another day yesterday as a reward of two million Libyan dinars (Dh5m) was offered for the fugitive Libyan leader, dead or alive.

Rebels searched Qaddafi strongholds in the capital yesterday and scoured the tunnels underneath his compound for any signs of him.

The stepped-up manhunt came hours after Col Qaddafi called on his supporters in an early morning radio address to "cleanse" Tripoli of "rats", and vowed to fight on "until victory or martyrdom".

Col Qaddafi described his abandonment of the Bab Al Aziziya compound, which the rebels have turned into a staging area for their operations, as a "tactical move". The White House said there was no evidence that Col Qaddafi had left Libya.

After an unidentified businessman in Benghazi, the eastern heart of the Libyan uprising, offered the reward, the National Transitional Council head Mohammed Abdel Jalil said any of Col Qaddafi's inner circle who killed or captured him would be given amnesty or pardoned for any crimes.

He also said Libya would hold elections in eight months, and if Col Qaddafi were captured alive he would be tried in Libya.

Colonel Abdallah Abu Afra, a rebel military spokesman, said rebel forces were in control of 95 per cent of Libya.

In Tripoli, however, residents were patrolling every street and alley for fear of a comeback by the regime's loyalists.

Many believed Col Qaddafi was hiding in an underground bunker in the capital.

"You know, Qaddafi is not living here. He lives underground," said a young rebel fighter, speeding away on a pickup truck inside Bab Al Aziziya compound.

"We are scared Qaddafi might come back. We heard his speech on the radio," said Najwa Omar Muhammed, stopping her car on Green Square, the symbol of Col Qaddafi's power. Ms Muhammed had just picked up her mother from her house in Abu Selim, a city neighbourhood.

"They are still fighting there and every 14-year-old kid has a gun," she said.

Forces loyal to Col Qaddafi bombed areas of central Tripoli, even targeting the compound that was once their headquarters.

Fighting was reported in areas of Bab Al Aziziya and near the five-star Rixos hotel, where more than 30 journalists were trapped for several days by armed Qaddafi supporters. They were freed yesterday with the intervention of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Several dozen rebel fighters congregated in the Corinthia Hotel, where many foreign journalists have been lodged since arriving in recent days.

Around half a dozen young fighters armed with assault rifles and a belt-fed machine gun were checking rooms in the hotel "looking for Saidi Qaddafi", according to one fighter.

Tripoli remained a contested city - dangerous and fearful - where it was difficult to distinguish the sound of celebratory gunfire from the actual fighting.

"We would not be out with guns if we were not scared," said Abdel Nasser Mohammed Ali, a 39-year-old who returned to Libya from Denmark, where he works, to protect his family.

"Nobody is sure Qaddafi is gone. The day we will see him on TV, under arrest, we will relax. Until that day, we won't trust one another, even if we grew up in the same neighbourhood."

Some in Tripoli speculated that Col Qaddafi has fled to Sebha, a southern town reputed to be strong in pro-Qaddafi sentiment.

Fierce fighting was raging in Sebha yesterday, said Ali Idriss Hadar, 30, whose father, Idriss Hadar, was trapped in the town.

"Maybe Qaddafi is in Sebha," said Al Hadar, a translator for a Chinese oil company whose family comes from Sebha. "The cities around there have been bombarded - maybe by Nato - for the last three days."

For at least some Tripoli residents, the rebel forces' ultimate victory was a foregone conclusion.

"Bab Al Aziziya was fundamental. How can Qaddafi return now? Our revolutionaries are everywhere," said Menahil Al Afi, 21, an engineering student out shopping yesterday with her friend, Hind.

"Just the old people think Qaddafi will come back. They believe what they see on state TV," said Ahmed, a young man who was on a patrol on Imam Malik street, a few metres from his house.

He said he wasn't scared, but still declined to give his full name. "Just in case," he said. "I don't want my parents to have problems … if Qaddafi's people come back."

 

jthorne@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National