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Battles continue in Libya but still no sign of Gaddafi

Tripoli was reported to be much quieter overnight but still no sign of the embattled Muammar Gaddafi.

Rebels celebrate on top of a monument inside the Gaddafi compound.
Rebels celebrate on top of a monument inside the Gaddafi compound.
Image: Sergey Ponomarev/AP/Press Association Images

BATTLES CONTINUE IN the Libyan capital Tripoli as rebel forces look to consolidate the gains they have made in recent days but they appear no closer to finding embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

All but deposed after his Bab al-Aziziya compound was taken over by rebel forces this week, Gaddafi is on the run but his whereabouts are unknown. Forces loyal to him continue to resist rebel advances in Tripoli as well as those in other cities still in the hand of pro-Gaddafi forces.

Suspected regime loyalists kidnapped four Italian journalists and killed their local driver in Libya as the group traveled down a highway to Tripoli on Wednesday, the Italian foreign ministry said last night.

The ministry said the four were abducted on a stretch of highway between Zawiya, a town 50 kilometres west of Tripoli.

The kidnapped include two reporters from Milan daily Corriere della Sera, one from Turin’s La Stampa and one from Avvenire, the daily of the Italian Catholic bishops Conference, the ministry said.

Information also emerged yesterday that two French journalists were wounded in the fighting around Bab al-Aziziya.

BBC correspondent Wyre Davies told Radio 4′s Today programme this morning that the capital was much quieter overnight but there remains serious infrastructural problems in the city with no electricity or running water.

Plans for the Libyan National Transitional Council to move its headquarters from the rebel stronghold in the eastern city of Benghazi appear to be on hold and may not happen until next week although there are some NTC representatives already in the capital.

Yesterday, the NTC offered an amnesty and a €1.4 million reward for anyone who captured Gaddafi – dead or alive.

It is thought that he could be in Sirte, his birthplace, where his forces are still firmly in control as they are of several key bases in the south of the country, according to BBC News.

In other developments, the UN security council has been presented with a draft resolution by the United States to unfreeze some $1.5 billion in assets for humanitarian needs in Libya.

Voice of America explains that a third of the money would be given to internationalal humanitarian organisations, a third for the purchase of fuel to get infrastructure moving again, and a final third for the NTC for the provision of social services such as education and healthcare.

Although a vote is expected today or tomorrow, the plan has been stalled because of resistance from South Africa which is waiting for guidance from the African Union which has not yet recognised the rebel leadership of the NTC which has already been recognised by several Western powers.

On Monday, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the rebel council is “now the only authority in Libya” in the view of the Irish government.

- additional reporting from AP

Read: Journalists freed from Tripoli hotel after Red Cross talks >

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Hugh O'Connell

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