herald

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Now $2m 'dead or alive' bounty put on fugitive dictator's head

Libyans hunting Muammar Gaddafi have offered a $2m bounty on the fallen dictator's head and amnesty for anyone who kills or captures him.

While some die-hard loyalists kept up the fight to defend him, his support has been crumbling by the hour.

His deputy intelligence chief defected, and even his foreign minister said his 42-year rule was over. A defiant Gaddafi vowed from hiding to fight on "until victory or martyrdom". He may have little choice.

Asked if a negotiated settlement or safe passage for Gaddafi from Libya was still possible, foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi said: "It looks like things have passed this kind of solution."

Rebel leaders were beginning to set up a new government in the capital. Their interim administration, the National Transitional Council, has been based in the eastern city of Benghazi, which fell under rebel control shortly after the outbreak of widespread protests in February.







Firing

Rebel officials are eager to prove they can bring a stable political future to Libya, and that their movement is more than an often-fractious collection of tribes, ethnicities and semiautonomous militias.

But the capital was far from pacified. A day after rebels captured Gaddafi's vast Bab al-Aziziya compound, the symbolic centre of his regime, loyalists were firing into the compound from an adjacent neighbourhood where intense clashes broke out.

Gaddafi has vowed not to surrender. Speaking to a local television channel, apparently by phone, he called on residents of the Libyan capital and loyal tribesmen to free Tripoli from the "devils and traitors" who have overrun it. Rebel fighters are now using Gaddafi's captured compound as a staging area, loading huge trucks with ammunition and discussing deployments, but they had yet to control all of Bab al-Aziziya.

At the once-luxurious Rixos Hotel near Abu Salim and Bab al-Aziziya, dozens of foreign journalists were freed after being held captive for days by pro-government gunmen.

hnews@herald.ie

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