Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Kadhafi's son defiant as rebels overrun Tripoli

 Updated at: 0746 PST, Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Kadhafi TRIPOLI: Libyan rebels declared the Kadhafi era over after storming Tripoli, but one of the veteran strongman's sons insisted the battle was far from over as he defiantly refuted reports of his arrest.

Exultant rebel fighters packed in trucks and cars have since Sunday streamed across the capital of the oil-rich North African state, seizing control of Moamer Kadhafi's state television network and Tripoli's seaside Green Square.

US President Barack Obama called for "an inclusive transition" in Libya, demanding that Kadhafi "explicitly" give up power and warning the rebels that their struggles were "not over yet".

But after so long in power, Kadhafi is resisting calls from Obama and other world leaders to step down and gunfire is still crackling around Tripoli, at the climax of a revolt that sprang up in February during the "Arab Spring".

Kadhafi's whereabouts are unknown but the White House said there was no indication that the 69-year-old leader, who has ruled Libya with an iron fist since 1969, had left Tripoli.

His son Seif al-Islam, after being said by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be under arrest, appeared before cheering armed loyalists outside the family's residential compound in the early hours of Tuesday.

"Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured. All is well in Tripoli," he told journalists outside the compound at Bab al-Azizya, smiling broadly and flashing the V for victory sign despite the rebels' encroachment.

"I am here to refute the lies," the 39-year-old said about reports of his arrest, and accused the West of waging a "technological and media war to cause chaos and terror in Libya".

Seif al-Islam, who like his father is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, claimed the insurgents had suffered "heavy casualties" Monday when they attempted to storm the Bab al-Azizya compound in the city's south.

Mohammed Kadhafi, the leader's eldest son whose arrest had also been announced by rebels, has escaped, the Libyan ambassador to Washington told American TV.

The rebels said they had cut off a column of pro-Kadhafi troops attempting to march on Tripoli from the city of Sirte, the leader's hometown. The rebels themselves say they are awaiting thousands of reinforcements from around Libya. (AFP)

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