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Gaddafi's hometown taken by Libyan forces

Libyan fighters for the interim government have reportedly hoisted their flag over the city of Sirte, the last hold-out of those loyal to former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Libyan revolutionary fighters in Sirte two days ago.
Libyan revolutionary fighters in Sirte two days ago.
Image: Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images

MUAMMAR GADDAFI’S LAST stronghold has reportedly fell to Libyan forces today, ending a two-month battle for the city of Sirte.

According to Reuters, Libyan interim fighters have claimed that Gaddafi’s hometown has been liberated.

“Our forces control the last neighborhood in Sirte,” Hassan Draoua, a member of Libya’s interim National Transitional Council (NTC), told the AP.

Celebratory gunfire was heard over the city as revolutionaries celebrated the fall of the last stronghold of regime loyalists.

However, some remain cautious that Gaddafi’s resistance may not be finished. Reuters reports that some of his forces broke out of the city in about 40 vehicles and headed west, evading capture.

Despite the fall of Tripoli – Gaddafi’s main stronghold and the capital of Libya – two months ago, some Gaddafi supporters were still holding out in Sirte.

Reporters at the scene today noted that the final assault this morning lasted about 90 minutes as loyalists fled the city. At least 20 of them were killed as they travelled down the coastal highway. Another 16 were captured, as well as cases of ammunition, trucks and other weapons.

Earlier this week, Bani Walid – another area where Gaddafi fighters were putting up fierce resistance – was taken by interim government forces.

With the fall of Sirte and Bani Walid, the National Transitional Council will likely declare full victory now and begin work on establishing a new democracy in the North African country.

There is still no sign of Gaddafi himself, who remains in hiding. Libyan officials believe he is somewhere in the vast southwestern desert near the borders with Niger and Algeria.

The strongman is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians.

Democracy

The real battle may now start as Libya’s new rulers work on forming a new democratic system.

Speaking ahead of a meting with former rebel forces, the NTC’s deputy said there will be a political battle with unclear rules, reports Al Jazeera.

“We went from a national battle to a political battle, and this should not have happened before the creation of a state,” said Mahmud Jibril.

Fears about in-fighting between rebel tribes, Islamists and liberal figures are growing by the day. Jibril warned on a situation that could plunge into “chaos”.

-Additional reporting by AP

Read: Libyans bulldoze Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound>

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