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Rebels break into Gaddafi compound

Rebels have fought their way into Muammar Gaddafi's heavily fortified compound as Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Libyan dictator's regime was in its "death throes".

There were scenes of jubilation in the Libyan capital Tripoli, with rebel soldiers firing their guns in the air after reportedly breaking right through to the dictator's inner sanctum.

In the wake of fierce gun battles with forces loyal to the 69-year-old dictator, the rebel soldiers poured through the green gates of the Bab al-Aziziya complex which been heavily damaged by Nato airstrikes.

There was still no sign of Gaddafi himself or members of his immediate family, but there was speculation he may have been inside.

Television footage from inside the compound showed rebels kicking the face of a gold bust of Gaddafi's head, stealing his golf cart and looting the compound while shooting their guns in the air in celebration. Rebels could also be seen hanging from the statue of an American aeroplane clenched inside a fist.

Mr Hague told Sky News: "This is not yet an ordered or secure situation in Tripoli or other parts of Libya. It's not over yet but we are in the death throes here of a despicable regime."

He later told the BBC that the fall of the compound was an "important" moment. "The symbolism of it apart from anything else is important," he said. "For anyone in Libya who thought the Gaddafi regime, that its writ still ran, that what Gaddafi's son was saying this morning was true - well they are really disabused of it when they can see what is happening at the compound there,"

The dictator is understood to have lost control of 80% of the Libyan capital as his base was stormed by rebel fighters. However claims that his 39-year-old son and heir apparent Saif al-Islam had been captured seemed premature when he arrived at Tripoli's loyalist-held Hotel Rixos to tell supporters that the regime's forces had "broken the backbone" of the rebel offensive.

Briton Tracey Costello, who lives in the Libyan capital, told the BBC: "Everyone is in their houses waiting to come out, we are celebrating indoors. It is frustrating. It is bad news about Saif al-Islam but, believe me, the Libyan people are 90% with the opposition."

Meanwhile, Gaddafi's eldest son Mohammed was also missing after reportedly breaking free from house arrest on Monday night.


From Belfast Telegraph