TRIPOLI, (Reuters) – Libya’s new masters have offered a million-dollar bounty for the fugitive Muammar Gaddafi, after he urged his men to fight on in battles across parts of the capital.
A day after rebel forces overran his Tripoli headquarters and trashed symbols of his 42-year rule, scattered pockets of loyalist diehards kept the irregular fighters at bay as they hunted Gaddafi and his sons. Rebels also reported fighting deep in the desert and a standoff round Gaddafi’s tribal home town.
In Tripoli, rockets and shooting kept largely kept civilians indoors and gunfire rang out in the centre into the night. Most were anxious but hopeful the war would soon end, and with it the worsening shortages of food, water and medical supplies — both for hundreds of wounded and for the sick.
“Gaddafi’s forces and his accomplices will not stop resisting until Gaddafi is caught or killed,” said Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC), who offered amnesty to any of his entourage who killed the fallen strongman and announced a reward worth over $1 million for his capture.
“The end will only come when he’s captured, dead or alive,” Abdel Jalil said in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Until then, he said, Gaddafi would not give up easily and could still unleash a “catastrophic event”. In a poor-quality audio tape broadcast by satellite yesterday, Gaddafi, 69, urged Libya’s tribes to “exterminate traitors, infidels and rats”.
There was no clear indication of where Gaddafi is, though his opponents surmised he was still in or around Tripoli after what Gaddafi himself described as a “tactical” withdrawal from his Bab al-Aziziya compound before it was captured on Tuesday.
But Western leaders and the rebel government-in-waiting have lost no time readying a handover of Libya’s substantial foreign assets. Funds will be required to bring relief to war-battered towns and to develop oil reserves that can make Libya rich.