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Rebels battle for Tripoli as Kadhafi hides out

media Rebels celebrated their invasion of Kadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The whereabouts of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi remain unknown as rebels continue their attempted takeover of the country’s capital Tripoli. Two air attack blasts shook the city Wednesday morning, hours after rebel fighters overran Kadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound.

Fighting continued following the storming of the compound, which is the symbolic seat of Kadhafi’s power.

Rebels said no traces of Kadhafi were found as they raided his compound, raising their flag and ripping the head off a statue of the country’s leader.

Early Wednesday, the website of a television station headed by Kadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, showed Kadhafi giving a speech, in which he announced that he had abandoned his compound in a “tactical withdrawal” after it was wrecked by Nato warplanes.

Later, in an audio message on the Arrai Oruba television station in Syria, Kadhafi boasted that he had hit the streets of Tripoli without being recognised.
In it, he urged residents, tribes and the elderly to go into the streets and “cleanse Tripoli of rats,” referring to the rebels.

Insurgents combed the streets Wednesday for any remaining members of the regime. Others manned checkpoints through the night, checking traffic.

Opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in comments published Wednesday that Libya will hold free elections in eight months and that Kadhafi will be tried in the country instead of being handed over to an international court.

Jalil told Italy’s La Repubblica, “The Kadhafi era is over, even if it will only really end with his capture and his conviction for the crimes he has committed.”
 

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