Libyan Rebels Offer Reward for Gadhafi’s Capture

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Libya's opposition is offering a $1.67 million reward for the capture of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The reward offer was made as fighting broke out again at the Gadhafi compound in Tripoli, one day after rebels overran the complex.

The head of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said his group supports a decision by local businessmen to provide the reward in an attempt to speed up Mr. Gadhafi's capture.

The rebel fighters fended off Gadhafi supporters in sporadic gunbattles Wednesday, after celebrating their capture of the Gadhafi compound the day before. They took weapons, television sets and souvenirs from the compound site while continuing their search for him. Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown, but U.S. officials said Tuesday they believe he is still in Libya.

A pro-government television channel quoted Mr. Gadhafi earlier as saying he had retreated from the Bab al-Aziziya compound in a “tactical move” after dozens of NATO airstrikes there. Al-Rai TV reported Wednesday that Mr. Gadhafi addressed Libyans on a local radio station, saying he vowed martyrdom or victory in his fight against what he called NATO aggression.

Residents in Tripoli celebrated early Wednesday after the rebels stormed the Bab al-Aziziya compound, despite finding no sign of the embattled leader or his family.

The anti-Gadhafi fighters do not have complete control of the city, however. Journalists heard heavy gunfire outside Tripoli's Rixos hotel, where pro-Gadhafi forces have kept them trapped.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the TNC chief, says days of fighting in Tripoli has left more than 400 people dead and 2,000 wounded. He did not specify whether he was talking about both sides in the conflict.

Jalil also told France-24 Television that about 600 pro-Gadhafi fighters were captured but that the battle will not be over until the Libyan leader himself is a prisoner. The TNC's new military chief, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, acknowledged late Tuesday that a small area of the vast Gadhafi compound was still under government control.

The Transitional National Council's de-facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, is set to meet Wednesday in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose office said the two will discuss the situation in Libya and international efforts to support a political transition.

Other Libyan leaders are meeting in Qatar Wednesday to discuss ways to speed funds into the country.

Residents in the Libyan port city of Zuara, near the Tunisian border, say pro-Gadhafi forces continued to pound the town with mortars and rockets.

Also Tuesday, Libyan rebels said they had taken control of the eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf. The major oil port is east on the road to Mr. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

In addition to Sirte and parts of Tripoli, pro-Gadhafi forces also control Sabha, another city affiliated with his tribe.