Gadhafi’s Son Saadi Intercepted in Niger

Posted September 11th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Niger's government says a convoy carrying ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son Saadi has crossed into Niger and was intercepted by an army patrol.

Justice Minister Marou Amadou said Sunday that Saadi Gadhafi, the highest profile member of the former regime to flee Libya to neighboring Niger, entered the country in a convoy of about ten people.

The vehicles were traveling toward the northern desert city of Agadez, where other fleeing Libyan loyalists are believed to have found refuge, including three generals and Mr. Gadhafi's security chief.

Amadou said he expected the group to be transferred to the capital, Niamey, sometime this week. But he said the government has no plans to arrest Saadi Gadhafi for now, as the International Criminal Court in the Hague has not issued a warrant for him.

Saadi, the fugitive ruler's 37-year-old son, had attempted to negotiate an end to the fighting in Libya with the ruling National Transitional Council late last month after its fighters swept through the capital, Tripoli. His brother, Seif al-Islam, publicly contradicted his efforts at the time, vowing a “war of attrition.”

Meanwhile, provisional authority fighters said Sunday they control big chunks of the oasis city of Bani Walid, one of Mr. Gadhafi's last remaining strongholds. They say pro-Gadhafi forces are still fighting to keep control of the town's center.

Anti-Gadhafi reinforcements poured into an area just outside the town Sunday. NATO warplanes flew overhead after providing air support the day before.

Smoke billowed from the city after intense fighting Saturday.

NATO said its warplanes hit a multiple rocket launcher, a tank and two armed vehicles. The alliance said it also struck targets near the pro-Gadhafi strongholds of Sirte and Sabha.

The NTC said anti-Gadhafi forces moved on Bani Walid Friday after loyalists fired a barrage of rockets at their positions.

Provisional authority fighters have expressed confidence they are close to victory despite continued clashes. NTC fighters reportedly are gathering outside other Gadhafi strongholds, including the former leader's hometown of Sirte.

Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown. Late Saturday, Guinea Bissau's prime minister said his country would welcome the ousted leader should he seek exile in the west African country. Guinea Bissau had strong ties to Mr. Gadhafi's government when he was in power.