Three of Colonel Gaddafi’s sons were last night reported to be in the hands of Libyan rebels as rumours spread that the tyrant himself had fled the capital.
There were reports that Gaddafi had fled to a bunker outside Tripoli, while the British representative of the rebels told Sky News he believed the dictator may even have gone to Algeria.
Independent Libyan television claimed the tyrant had ‘run away like a coward’, while the news channel Al-Jazeera reported the African Union may be offering Gaddafi exile in Angola or Zimbabwe.
Armed to the teeth and baying for Gaddafi’s blood: Rebels head towards the gates of Tripoli yesterday. They claimed the dictator had reached ‘zero hour’ for his reign of terror
Thousands of people gathered in central Benghazi last night following the news from Tripoli
Celebration: A man on the roof of a building in Benghazi fires a flare into the air as other fireworks go off around him
Riding to victory: A group of Libyan rebels smile and make peace signs as they progress into Tripoli yesterday
Last stand: Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam in a televised address. Last night he was said to have been captured by rebel forces
The head of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the rebels’ governing body, said they had arrested Saif al-Islam and Al-Saadi, two of the tyrant’s sons. A third, Muhammad, was reported to have handed himself in.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al-Jazeera: ‘He (Saif) is being kept in a secure place under close guard until he is handed over to the judiciary.’
And he insisted Saif would not be harmed, telling French newspaper Le Monde: ‘We gave instructions that he is well treated, in order to be judged.’
Jubilant: This group of Libyan civilians were on the streets of Maia celebrating the rebels advancement
Freedom: A young man carries the flag of the Libyan republic along the streets of Maia
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi once had a very close relationship with the West and was considered by many to represent a more democratic future for Libya. But since the uprising began he has become closely allied to his father. The International Criminal Court has a warrant out for his arrest on war crimes charges.
Gaddafi’s oldest son, Muhammad, ran the company which operated all mobile phones and satellites in the country, as well as being head of the Libyan Olympic Committee.
Al-Saadi, took a far more hands-on role in his father’s regime, as commander of Libya’s Special Forces. He has been accused of ordering the army to fire on unarmed protesters in Benghazi at the start of the uprising.
As wild celebrations erupted across Libya to mark Gaddafi’s apparent departure, there were reports that the dictator, who has been in power for 42 murderous years, was actually moving around a series of bomb-proof bunkers and tunnels beneath the capital.
The battle for Tripoli
they said he was boring on T.V., but he went out with a sizzle… Daddy Qaddaffi with Nasser in 1969 Gaddafi looked to Gamal Abdel Nasser as a role model and based his government on Nasser’s Egypt. He was fiercely anti-Western, and told Western officials that he would expel their companies from Libya’s oil fields unless they shared more revenue. In his statement, he threatened to do so only if Nasser told him to, indicating strong ties to Nasser. Because of his demands, oil companies changed their payments from 50-50 to 79-21 percent in favor of the government. In December 1969, Egyptian intelligence stopped a planned coup on Gaddafi from high-ranking members of his leadership. Many of the dissenters were uneasy about his growing relationship to Egypt. After the failed coup Gaddafi made any political dissent illegal and gave power only to his family and closest associates.
Compound: Two men survey damage at the Gaddafi residence in Tripoli following an air strike. There are reports the home has secret tunnels the tyrant may use to escape
And even as he was supposed to have taken refuge within the complex – which is reputed to be able to withstand a nuclear attack – the dictator broadcast a message as his troops prepared to mount a last stand.
Gaddafi’s official spokesman had previously lashed out against Britain, France and the U.S. – the three countries leading the campaign to oust the dictator – as he warned of a ‘ghastly disaster’ if rebel forces took Tripoli. Earlier in the day, sources inside the embattled city said pro-Gaddafi forces had put snipers on the rooftops of buildings around Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi’s secret compound, and on the top of a nearby water tower.
His bunker complex is the stuff of Libyan folklore. Tunnels are said to connect vast, cavernous rooms capable of housing tanks, aircraft and weapons. He also has sleeping quarters in different parts of the complex. An insight into his desire to seek refuge underground emerged when rebel forces seized control of Benghazi, the country’s second city, in March.
They discovered a series of tunnels and rooms built more than 100 yards below the earth.
But the Tripoli complex is far grander, and some defectors claim there are even tunnels running for hundreds of miles from Gaddafi’s bunker to the south of the country – a possible escape route.
At the start of the uprising, Gaddafi ordered a children’s playground to be built around the secret entrances to the bunker, hoping this would deter targeted Nato airstrikes.
And Nato sources warned the shifting battle lines and the movement of the fighting into built-up areas in Tripoli had made it more difficult to engage airstrikes without endangering civilians.
Colonel Gaddafi suffered a massive personal setback when one of his sons was allegedly killed in a suicide air mission on his barracks.
spelling… Best bet is Qadhafi. His son uses the same arrangement of spelling as the U.S. Department of State. The White House has it all wrong.