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Gaddafi `still a threat` as rebels move on Sirte

The Algerian foreign ministry on Monday said that his wife and other relatives have fled to Algeria.



Tripoli: Libyan rebels said on Monday that
strongman Muammar Gaddafi still poses a danger to Libya and
the world, as insurgents closed in on his hometown of Sirte a
week after overrunning the capital.

Rebels were also battling to restore basic services in
Tripoli, hit by cuts in the supply of water, electricity,
petrol and food after a week of fierce clashes.

Although Gaddafi`s whereabouts remain a mystery, the Algerian foreign ministry on Monday said that his wife and other relatives have fled to Algeria.

The Algerian government said Gaddafi`s wife, daughter, two of his sons and their children entered the neighboring country on Monday. It did not say whether Gaddafi himself was with the family.

The leader of the rebels` National Transitional Council
(NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, urged in Doha on Monday no let-up
in international action against Gaddafi .

"Gaddafi`s defiance of the coalition forces still poses a
danger, not only for Libya but for the world. That is why we
are calling for the coalition to continue its support," Abdel
Jalil said at a meeting of chiefs of staff of countries
militarily involved in Libya, including Qatar.

Another senior rebel leader, Jallal al-Digheily -- who
holds the NTC`s defence portfolio -- told the meeting
coalition support was still necessary.

"We still need the support (of the coalition) to
re-establish security and eliminate the sleeper cells and the
remainder of Gaddafi`s regime," he said.

The international coalition launched Operation Unified
Protector on March 19 under a UN mandate which authorised air
strikes to protect civilians in Libya`s civil war which began
with a peaceful revolt in mid-February.

Since March 31, the air strikes have been carried out
under NATO command.

The coalition military chiefs in a statement from Doha
agreed that the war in Libya "is yet to end."
They also agreed that "there is a need to continue the
joint action until the Libyan people achieve their goal by
eliminating the remnants of Gaddafi."

Rebels moved to within 30 kilometres of Sirte from the
west and captured Bin Jawad 100 kilometres to the east, the
rebel commander in Misrata, Mohammed al-Fortiya, said on
Sunday.

"We are negotiating with the tribes for Sirte`s peaceful
surrender," Fortiya said, adding only tribal leaders were
involved, and that to his knowledge no direct contact had been
made with Gaddafi himself.

General Suleyman Mahmud, deputy commander in chief of the
rebel forces, today confirmed talks were being held for a
peaceful solution.

"There are still negotiations with elders and
representatives of the city of Sirte. We are trying not to
engage anyone in fighting except with those who are with the
tyrant Gaddafi. But the outcome of the negotiations is still
not clear," he told reporters in Tripoli.

The rebels have offered a 1.7 million-dollar reward for
Gaddafi`s capture, dead or alive.

Fierce fighting also raged in the west as rebels trying to
wrest control of the region from Gaddafi`s forces said they
were ambushed southwest of Zuwarah.

Sirte has been targeted by NATO warplanes, which since
Friday have destroyed more than 50 military vehicles, two
shelters, an observation point, four radars and two
surface-to-air missile systems, according to NATO statements.

Some 70 percent of homes in central Tripoli have no
running water because of damage to the network, but potable
water is being distributed from mosques, giving priority to
elderly and medical facilities, NTC officials said.

Abed al-Obeidi, deputy chief of the transitional council
in Tripoli, said the water problem was technical, denying
sabotage by Gaddafi`s forces was to blame.

But Faysal Gargab, a member of the capital`s stabilisation
team, said engineers who travelled to a "remote area" to
connect wells back to the water grid were prevented from doing
so by Gaddafi`s forces.

"The security of the area deteriorated... The engineers
had to flee because Gaddafi forces were disturbing the
(sites)," he said without specifying when water would flow
again or where the wells were located.

Rubbish trucks were deployed on today for the first time
since the capital fell to rebels. Some residents of central
Tripoli tackled the problem themselves with brooms, but the
outskirts were still strewn with refuse.

Meanwhile, the only man convicted for the 1988 bombing of
a Pan Am jet which killed 270 people when it blew up over the
Scottish town of Lockerbie is drifting in and out of a coma,
his family said.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who has terminal cancer,
"is in and out of a coma," his brother Abdel Nasser told
reporters outside the family home in Tripoli.

"His medicine was looted but he has new supplies now,"
said Abdel Nasser, who spoke to journalists outside the family
home in Dimashq neighbourhood.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch said today that evidence
indicates that retreating Gaddafi forces massacred dozens of
detainees, after at least 50 human skulls had been counted in a
makeshift jail.

HRW said in a statement that it had inspected about 45
skeletons and two other bodies at the makeshift prison in
Tripoli`s Salaheddin neighbourhood.

"Sadly this is not the first gruesome report of what
appears to be the summary execution of detainees in the final
days of the Gaddafi government`s control of Tripoli," Sarah
Leah Whitson, HRW`s Middle East and north Africa director,
said in a statement.

A correspondent on Saturday counted at least 50
skulls in the ashes at the facility next to a base of the
feared Khamis Gaddafi`s 32 Brigade in Salaheddin, a suburb
just south of Tripoli.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, meanwhile,
said that Libyan rebels were holding "hundreds" of detainees,
some of them foreigners.

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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