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Gaddafi hunted with regime on brink

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is nowhere to be found as his 42-year rule teetered on the brink of collapse.

Months of Nato airstrikes have left his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli largely demolished.

Most of his security forces fled or surrendered when rebel forces rolled into the capital on Sunday night and took control of most of the city. Three of his sons were under arrest.

A mood of joy mixed with trepidation settled over the capital, with the rebels still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, who was in Tripoli, said the "danger is still there" as long as Gaddafi remains on the run. "The real moment of victory is when Gaddafi is captured," Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebel National Transitional Council, told a news conference in the opposition's de facto capital of Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli.

He said the rebels have no idea where Gaddafi is and whether he is even in Tripoli. Meanwhile, an Obama administration official said the US had no indication that Gaddafi had left Libya.

Gaddafi's forces remained active, firing off a short-range Scud missile near Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and one of the few remaining cities still under his control, said US military officials. It was unclear where the missile landed or if anyone was hurt.

President Barack Obama said the situation in Libya reached a tipping point in recent days after a five month Nato-led bombing campaign. However, he acknowledged that the situation remained fluid and that elements of the regime remained a threat.

The Obama administration official said US officials and Nato partners had not been in contact with Gaddafi during the siege on Tripoli. However, the official said American and Nato representatives, as well as Libyan rebels, had all been in contact with people around Gaddafi, mostly those looking for a way out.

Nato vowed to keep up its air campaign until all pro-Gaddafi forces surrender or return to their barracks. The alliance's warplanes have hit at least 40 targets in and around Tripoli in the past two days - the highest number on a single geographic location since the bombing started in March, Nato said.


From Belfast Telegraph