Libyan rebels put a price of EUR 1.2 M on the head of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, dead or alive, the head of the National Transitional Council said on 24 August.
“The NTC supports the initiative of businessmen who are offering two million dinars for the capture of Muammar Qaddafi, dead or alive,” NTC chair Mustafa Abdel Jalil said yesterday in Tripoli. During the same speech he offered amnesty to “members of (Qaddafi’s) close circle who kill him or capture him.”
The ousted leader whose whereabouts are still unknown, said in a speech aired early on 24 August by the website of a television station headed by his son Seif al-Islam, that he had abandoned his compound in a “tactical withdrawal” after it had been wrecked by NATO warplanes. The attack on Gaddafi’s headquarters followed three days of fighting in the capital, which Abdel Jalil said had left more than 400 killed and 2,000 wounded. It is unclear if these numbers include casualties on both sides.
Gaddafi’s Headquarters Bab al-Azizya is fully under control of the rebel forces but there is no trace of the Colonel and his family. The headquarters itself is just a heap of rubble after it has been the target of 64 NATO missiles.
In a later audio message on Syria-based Arrai Oruba television station, the former strongman said that he had walked incognito in the streets of Tripoli. He urged “the residents, the tribes, the elderly to go into the streets… and cleanse Tripoli of rats” – referring to the rebels. Gaddafi’s spokesperson Mussa Ibrahim said on Arrai Oruba that more than 6,500 “volunteers” had arrived in Tripoli to fight for the regime, and called for more.
The battle over Tripoli Citadel continues. Fighting spread to the nearby Abu Slim area, where loyalist troops were on the attack. Many streets were deserted in the city center, with commanders saying dozens of pro-Gaddafi snipers have taken up positions.
Two powerful blasts thought to be caused by an air attack rocked the capital on 24 August as a NATO warplane flew overhead.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed in a meeting with Libya’s head of the National Transitional Council that France would continue military operations in Libya under a United Nations mandate for as long as needed. Mr. Jibril met with the French president in Paris for talks on how to ensure a smooth transition to democracy in the post-Gaddafi era.
A “Friends of Libya” conference has been set for 1 September in Paris. Sarkozy told reporters that Russia, China, India and Brazil would be invited to the conference.
By then, the smoke from the fights will be dispersed and Libya’s transition will be seen on the horizon.
(Sources: Al Arabiya; 25 August 2011)