Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

SAS hunting for Gaddafi in Libya

British special forces aided rebel victory, now they pursue dictator

By Kimd Sengupta and AP

The SAS has begun hunting down Colonel Gaddafi in Libya after they help organise the rebel takeover of Tripoli, it has emerged.

Dressed as Arabs and carrying the same guns as the Libyan fighters, the SAS has been ordered to turn its attention to finding the elusive dictator.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the opposition administration, the TNC (Transitional National Council), yesterday authorised a bounty of two million Libyan dinars (£1m) for anyone handing over the dictator "dead or alive".

He also offered an amnesty to any of his entourage who would "kill or capture him".

Meanwhile, scattered battles flared across Tripoli yesterday, with pro-regime snipers cutting off the airport road while others launched repeated attacks on Gaddafi's 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. 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.

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.

Meanwhile, another drama was continuing in the nearby Rixos Hotel where 40 foreign journalists had been held hostage by regime troops. By yesterday afternoon they had been let out under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "Gaddafi must accept defeat" and in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy stressed that "Gaddafi's time has run out".

Colonel Gaddafi's response was to appear on a local channel, Al-Oruba TV, saying he had made a tactical retreat. He vowed to fight on "until victory or martyrdom".

Frustration at the failure to crush the loyalists has also led to recriminations within rebel ranks.

"We keep on hearing that Gaddafi's sons are leading the attacks," said volunteer Ahmed Jawad Ibadullah, from Zawiyah.

"What happened there? We were told by the people in Benghazi that the whole family of b*****ds has been finished. Now we get this."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph