Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hometown ablaze, but Gaddafi may have fled country


Published: 27 August, 2011, 18:21
Italy, Rome : Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi delivers a speech on November 16, 2009. (AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)
Italy, Rome : Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi delivers a speech on November 16, 2009. (AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)
TRENDS: Libyan conflict

Colonel Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, where the fugitive Libyan leader is believed to sheltering, is under fierce attack. However, reports have emerged saying that Gaddafi could have left the country already.
­British warplanes have bombed SIrte in the last 24 hours, according to NATO. The town has been targeted many times lately, but it remains one of the few places the Libyan leader could still be hiding in, with most of its population reportedly supporting the colonel.

A rebel detachment is heading there to the town, which is located some 400 kilometers east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, their aim being to find Gaddafi so that they can officially oust him from the leadership. Sirte remains one of the very few places Colonel Gaddafi can go.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels encircled the Ras Jdir border post on the boundary with Tunisia, a possible escape point for Gaddafi to flee the country. Over 100 rebels arrived at the post on Friday, but it is reported there were no real clashes

“There were not any real clashes; the loyalists took off and the rebels’ flag was raised at the border post,” a Tunisian official told the Express Tribune.

On Thursday, the National Transitional Council (NTC) moved many of its top figures from Benghazi to Tripoli, just days after rebel fighters overran Tripoli and seized Gaddafi's headquarters.

As one potential escape route for Gaddafi was closed off, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Saturday that six armored black Mercedes cars crossed the border and headed to Algeria. Colonel Gaddafi could have been in one of the cars, the report says. According to Reuters news agency, rebels tried to follow the cars, but had to give up due to a lack of munitions. Libyan military sources said the Mercedes bullet-proof cars, thought to be carrying Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his sons, left Libya for Algeria through the border, without any pursuit from the rebels.
But a high Algerian official said that it is very unlikely that Gaddafi could have fled into Algeria, as reported by Italy’s La Repubblica. The newspaper says the official, who is in a high position at the border with Libya, spoke on condition of anonymity.

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