Gaddafi forces hang on in Sirte while he hides

TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, (Reuters) – Forces loyal to deposed  ruler Muammar Gaddafi held out in a few Libyan towns on Tuesday  even though their leader has gone to ground and most of his  family has fled the country.

As anti-Gaddadfi fighters converged on his birthplace Sirte  from east and west, Libya’s interim council gave the loyalists  holed up there a four-day deadline to surrender or face a bloody  end.

“By Saturday, if there are no peaceful indications for  implementing (a negotiated surrender), we will decide this  matter militarily. We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait  longer,” council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said.

Gaddafi’s wife Safia, and his sons Hannibal and Mohammed  entered Algeria on Monday morning, along with their children,  Algeria’s Foreign Ministry said.

His pregnant daughter Aisha was also among the party and she  gave birth within a day to a girl, a source close to Algeria’s  health ministry said.

The interim council accused Algeria of an act of agression  in giving refuge to the family. But Algerian officials said the  the plight of the expectant mother weighed on the decision.

The baby was born in Djanet, according to two Algerian  official sources. An oasis deep in the Sahara, Djanet lies about  60 km (40 miles) from the Libyan frontier and 500 km southwest  of Sabha, one of the last bastions of support for Gaddafi.

Aisha, who is in her mid-30s, was on the very point of  giving birth when the family appealed to cross the border, an  Algerian source said.


Muammar Gaddafi’s whereabouts have not been generally known  since his foes seized his Tripoli compound on Aug. 23, ending  his 42-year rule after a six-month revolt backed by NATO and  some Arab states.

Britain’s Sky News, citing a young bodyguard of his son  Khamis, said the fallen leader had stayed in Tripoli until  Friday when he left for Sabha.

It quoted the captured 17-year-old as saying Gaddafi met his  son Khamis, a feared military commander, at around 1:30 p.m. on  Friday in a Tripoli compound that was under heavy rebel fire.  Gaddafi had arrived by car and was soon joined by Aisha.

After a short meeting, they boarded four-wheel drive  vehicles and left, the bodyguard told a Sky reporter, adding  that his officer had told him: “They’re going to Sabha.”

Some anti-Gaddafi officers have reported that Khamis Gaddafi  and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi were both  killed in a clash on Saturday. This has not been confirmed and  NATO said it had no word on Khamis’s fate.


At forward positions of NTC forces, on the main coastal road  some 100 km (60 miles) west of Sirte, a Reuters correspondent  saw little sign of military action on Tuesday.

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