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Battle goes on in Gaddafi compound

Scattered battles have been flaring across Tripoli with pro-regime snipers cutting off the airport road while others launched repeated attacks on Muammar's Gaddafi's captured private compound.

Although opposition fighters claimed they had most of Tripoli under control, a defiant Gaddafi in hiding vowed in a recorded statement to fight on "until victory or martyrdom."

Few civilians were willing to venture outside. The streets of the city were scattered with debris, broken glass, garbage and other remnants of fighting, while rebels manned checkpoints every few hundred yards.

But intense clashes broke out in the Abu Salim neighbourhood next to Gaddafi's vast Bab al-Aziziya compound. Gaddafi loyalists inside Abu Salim were also firing into the captured compound. Abu Salim is home to a notorious prison and thought to be one of the regime's final strongholds.

Rebels found no sign of Gaddafi but rumours churned through the city about his possible whereabouts. While the conquest effectively signalled the end of the regime, the rebels know they will face pockets of stiff resistance for some time to come - and that they cannot really proclaim victory until Gaddafi is found.

Col. Ahmed Bani, a rebel spokesman, said rebels were offering amnesty to anybody who killed or captured Gaddafi.

Rebel fighters, who appeared to control most but not all of Bab al-Aziziya, were using the compound as staging area for their operations, loading huge trucks with ammunition and discussing deployments.

But their movements inside the compound were repeatedly disrupted by loyalist attacks, with pro-Gaddafi snipers firing on the fighters from tall buildings in Abu Salim. The rebels also claim they control the Tripoli airport but are still clashing with Gaddafi forces in the streets around it.

Elsewhere in the city, streets were deserted except for the from rebel checkpoints, where fighters looked for Gaddafi supporters and checked the trunks of cars for weapons. At one checkpoint, a picture of Gaddafi, once ubiquitous throughout the city, had been laid on the ground so cars had to drive over it.

Even as his 42-year-old regime was crumbling around him, Gaddafi vowed not to surrender. In an audio message he called on residents of the Libyan capital and loyal tribesmen to free Tripoli from the "devils and traitors" who have overrun it.

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