NTC, Pro-Gadhafi Forces Clash in Two Towns

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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Forces loyal to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi have clashed with provisional government fighters in two Gadhafi strongholds, ahead of a deadline for loyalists to surrender.

Pro-Gadhafi fighters fired a barrage of Grad rockets at National Transitional Council fighters near Bani Walid on Friday. Meanwhile, NATO said Friday that it had carried out air strikes, near the desert town, that destroyed two Scud missiles that were part of Mr. Gadhafi's arsenal.

Also Friday, Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte skirmished with NTC fighters.

The incidents took place ahead of the NTC's Saturday deadline for the loyalists in both towns to surrender. The group's political leaders have said they want to avoid military action that could harm civilians.

Meanwhile, a senior general and other officials who were part of Mr. Gadhafi's government have crossed into Niger.

News organizations quote officials in Niger who say General Ali Kana and several other high-ranking officials were part of a group of about a dozen people who entered the country on Friday.

Kana was in charge of Mr. Gadhafi's troops in southern Libya. He is a Tuareg, the dominant tribe in northern Niger.

On Wednesday, Niger's justice minister said 18 people had entered the country from Libya in recent days, but that Mr. Gadhafi was not among them. Libya's National Transitional Council sent envoys to Niger in an effort to prevent the fugitive former leader and his associates from leaving Libya.

Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libya's former intelligence chief .

The international police agency said Friday that it issued a “red notice” calling on all countries to help locate the three men and place them under arrest. Their current whereabouts are unknown, but they are accused of committing crimes against humanity.

A Syrian television station aired an audio message Thursday that was said to have been recorded by Mr. Gadhafi, who denied he had crossed into Niger.

The former leader denounced the NTC fighters who seized control of Tripoli and contended troops loyal to him are still able to mount a resistance to the new administration taking shape in Tripoli.