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Confusion over Gaddafi whereabouts

Tripoli's military commander has said that Muammar Gaddafi is cornered and the days before he is captured or killed are numbered, but another senior defence official claimed that Libya's new rulers have no idea where the fugitive former leader is.

The ousted leader, who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years, has not been seen in public for months and has released only audio messages trying to rally his supporters and lash out at his opponents.

He went to ground after opposition fighters swept into Tripoli on August 21. The former rebels are still battling regime loyalists in three Gaddafi strongholds - Bani Walid, Sabha and Sirte.

Hunting down Gaddafi would help seal the new rulers' hold on the country, and probably trigger the collapse of the remaining regime loyalists still fighting the former rebels.

Anis Sharif, a spokesman for Tripoli's military council, told the Associated Press that Gaddafi was still in Libya and had been tracked using advanced technology and human intelligence.

Rebel forces have taken up positions on all sides of the fugitive leader's presumed location, with none more than 40 miles away, he said, without elaborating.

"He can't get out," said Mr Sharif, who added the former rebels are preparing to either detain him or kill him. "We are just playing games with him," he said.

He said an operations room manned by about 20 people has been set up in Tripoli to try to track Gaddafi's movements and co-ordinate the hunt for him.

Two fighters close to Libya's new leaders told the AP that they believe Gaddafi is inside Bani Walid. They did not offer details.

However, deputy defence minister Mohammad Taynaz told the AP that the former rebels do not know where Gaddafi is and said the fugitive leader could still be hiding in tunnels under Tripoli.

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