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Libya

Where is Kadhafi? world asks as NTC claims he is surrounded

Rebelles libyens sécurisant un point de contrôle sur la route de Tarhuna à Bani Walid, le 3 septembre 2011.
Rebelles libyens sécurisant un point de contrôle sur la route de Tarhuna à Bani Walid, le 3 septembre 2011. Francisco Leong/AFP
3 min

Libya’s new rulers claim they know where Moamer Kadhafi is and are closing in on him. After Tuesday’s report of a convoy of Kadhafi forces crossing into Niger, the National Transitional Council (NTC) is pressing the country not to give the former leader a safe haven.

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Kadhafi has been spotted in Libya and his capture is only a matter of time, NTC official Anis Sharif said Wednesday.

The former leader is inside a 60-kilometre area surrounded by NTC forces and cannot get out, he said.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

The owner of a Syrian-based TV channel, who is in touch with Kadhafi, also claimed that he is in Libya.

He and his son Seif al-Islam are “in Libya, in very good spirits, feel[ing] strong […] and would be happy to die fighting against the occupiers" Mishan al-Juburi, a former Iraqi MP who is now the owner of Arrai Oruba television.

But the NTC has sent a delegation to Niger’s capital, Niger, to tell the country not to allow Kadhafi or his troops to enter its territory, after a convoy, reportedly carrying gold and cash, crossed the Sahara on Tuesday.

Niger has denied reports that Kadhafi was on board one of the roughly 200 vehicles and Burkina Faso, which two weeks ago offered him refuge, has now said it will not do so.

“They’re missing the point the key border is that these guys are going to cut through Algeria,” comments UK-based Sahel region expert Jeremy Keenan.

Keenan believes that Kadhafi is in Libya, probably in an area south of Sabha, one of the towns where his supporters are still holding out.

“It’s a string of oases and you can hide an army in there,” he told RFI. “It’s a very good hideout.”

Another possibility is the south-western town of Ghat, according to Keenan. Local people have told him that there is a huge facility under the airport there, he says.

In other developments:

  • Kadhafi’s forces have been given a Saturday deadline to surrender, as they hold out in Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha;
  • NTC leaders gave varying accounts of whether a deal had been reached with tribal chiefs to surrender Bani Walid;
  • The Libya conflict has “turned the region into a powder keg”, Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum told a conference on conference on Sahel security in Algeria.

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