Fight for Libya
August 23rd, 2011
02:58 AM ET

Live blog: Gadhafi releases taped message

Tuesday was a turning point for rebels fighting for control of Tripoli, as they seized Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s vast compound. Celebratory gunfire was virtually nonstop as rebels streamed in and out of the compound, many leaving with weapons and ammunition seized from the complex.

A senior NATO official warned that the war "is not over yet, although it's close."

"We continue to watch for flare-ups from around the country, where there are still going to be pockets of resistance," the official said. "We are also watching the chemical weapons and Scud missiles to make sure they are not used in the endgame."

Here are the latest developments:

[Updated 11:11 p.m. ET, 5:11 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] A woman living in Tripoli tells CNN's Anderson Cooper about her neighborhood getting hit by rockets from what she believes were pro-Gadhafi forces, and about how she is proud of the rebels who have risen against Gadhafi:

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[Updated 10:58 p.m. ET, 4:58 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] In an interview with CNN, former Gadhafi aide Bashir Saleh called for an end to the violence. "I appeal to everybody who has his arms to think before shooting - from our side or from the Gadhafi side. It's time to stop the bloodshed," he said.

Asked what Gadhafi had told him during the uprising when he made similar comments, Saleh said, "He say that he has a job and we have to continue our job. Job is to stop the rebellions, and we have the right to do so."

[Updated 9:19 p.m. ET, 3:19 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Rebels at Tripoli's airport say Gadhafi loyalists fiercely defended an area east of the airport Tuesday, prompting the rebels to wonder whether loyalists were protecting a high-profile figure in the vicinity, CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

Rebels hold the airport but have yet to control an area to the east. Gadhafi loyalists from two military compounds launched multiple assaults on the airport Tuesday, Damon reported.

[Updated 9:08 p.m. ET, 3:08 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Gadhafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has told Arrai Television that Libya's tribes have organized a military leadership, and that the tribes will go to Tripoli to fight the rebels.

"Moammar Gadhafi's rule is not just over Tripoli," Ibrahim said. "Moammar is loved by millions! From the center of Libya to western Libya to the mountains of Libya to everywhere. So the fighting will continue."

[Updated 9:03 p.m. ET, 3:03 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] A Maltese government spokesman told CNN's Matthew Chance that a boat from Malta has docked in a Libyan port, with space aboard for journalists who are inside the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli. "The trouble is that we've not managed to negotiate an exit from the hotel," Chance said early Wednesday. Gadhafi loyalist guards at the hotel have not allowed journalists there to leave, saying they are being protected.

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[Updated 8:44 p.m. ET, 2:44 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Gadhafi, in a taped message aired tonight by a Tripoli radio station, vowed martyrdom or victory, according to Reuters.

He also said the retreat from his compound, which was taken over by rebels on Tuesday, was a tactical move, according to Reuters.

[Updated 8:10 p.m. ET, 2:10 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] About 200 people are celebrating in Tripoli's Green Square - which rebels are calling Martyr's Square - CNN's Sara Sidner reports.

People are firing guns into the air in celebration, waving pre-Gadhafi Libyan flags and shouting things like "Gadhafi needs to go," according to Sidner.

[Updated 7:26 p.m. ET, 1:26 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Some of the rebel leadership is moving from its power base in Benghazi to the nation's capital, Tripoli, said Mahmoud Shammam, information minister of the rebels' National Transitional Council.

"Half of the government will be in Tripoli tomorrow morning," he said, citing the ministries of Oil, Communications, Interior, Defense and Health. "They will take care of their jobs immediately."

A stabilization team will ensure that Tripoli is supplied with electricity and clean water, Shammam said.

"The whole situation is not so bad," Shammam told CNN from Libya's border with Tunisia. "Things are going to get better every day." But, he added, the work is daunting. Gadhafi left behind no institutions, no political parties, no civil society. "We have to build things from scratch," he said.

[Updated 7:21 p.m. ET, 1:21 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] The information minister of the rebels' National Transitional Council, Mahmoud Shammam, said "it doesn't matter" where Gadhafi is.

He said rebel forces controlled 90% of the country. "In a few hours, maximum a few days, we have a new Libya, a new, liberated Libya," he said.

Shammam said battles raged in several cities across the country - not just in Tripoli. "We're fighting in three or four fronts right now," he said, adding, "our troops are limited."

[Updated 6:52 p.m. ET, 12:52 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his country would only recognize a Libyan government led by Moammar Gadhafi, state media reported.

"From here we confirm our solidarity with the Libyan people, our brother that is being assaulted and bombed ... as part of the imperial insanity," Chavez said during a meeting of government ministers in Caracas, Venezuela, the state-run AVN news agency reported.

Chavez and Gadhafi are close allies. The Venezuelan leader has spoken out numerous times since unrest erupted in Libya, accusing the United States and other countries of blowing the situation out of proportion to justify an invasion.

[Updated 6:35 p.m. ET, 12:35 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance tweets an update from the Rixos Hotel, where he, other journalists and former U.S. congressional delegate Walter Fauntroy are staying:

Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: We'd like to leave to a safer location and negotiate an exit, but we are being prevented from doing so. #cnn #rixos4 #rixos #libya #gadaffi

@mchancecnn: Everyone frightened & concerned Рdoesn't feel like a 5 star hotel. Some water left but food at risk of ruin. #rixos4 #rixos #cnn #libya

Gadhafi loyalists have not allowed the group to leave the hotel for days, saying they need to stay for their own safety.

[Updated 6:14 p.m. ET, 12:14 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] The Rev. Walter Edward Fauntroy, a former congressional delegate for the District of Columbia who is trapped at Tripoli's Rixos Hotel with foreign journalists, has told CNN that he arrived in Libya more than a week ago on a peace mission with fellow minister K.A. Paul.

"Right now we are in a precarious situation with some of our friends from the media, because we fear that unless we are able to relocate, we may all be in danger," Fauntroy said. "As a minister who believes in the fervent and effective prayers of the righteous, I have joined with Dr. K.A. Paul in an appeal to people ... to pray for deliverance for not only us, but the press corps with whom we have been quartered here, in an effort to carry out our peace mission."

"I came here over a week ago now and have been working on a long term effort to rally the genuine spiritual leaders of the world ... to work out a peace agreement," said Fauntroy, who was an associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Gadhafi loyalists have not allowed the journalists to leave the hotel for days, saying they need to stay for their own safety.

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Fight for Libya
August 22nd, 2011
01:20 AM ET

Live blog: Gadhafi son reappears in Tripoli

As Libyan rebels fought to consolidate their hold on Tripoli on Monday and early Tuesday, reports emerged that two sons of Libya's longtime leader were free despite earlier reports that rebels had captured them.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, appeared to reporters in a convoy of armored Land Cruisers in Tripoli on Tuesday morning, more than a day after rebels claimed they had captured him. Hours earlier, Libya's ambassador to the United States said that one of Moammar Gadhafi's other sons, Mohammed Gadhafi, had escaped.

Fighting continued Monday between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, the latest installment of battles in a months-long uprising in Libya. Here are the latest developments:

[Updated at 11:39 p.m. ET, 5:39 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Three surface-to-surface missiles were fired within Libya on Monday evening, NATO said in a statement. The alliance said it was not aware of damages or casualties.
The missiles were fired from the area of Sirte, the hometown of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Initial reports indicate they landed in the coastal area of Misrata, "most likely at sea or on the shore," NATO said.

"The use of such missiles presents a direct threat to innocent people. Although the surface-to-surface missiles in (Gadhafi's) arsenal are highly inaccurate, and are not designed to hit a specific target, they are a weapon of terror. Their use against an urban or industrial area is utterly irresponsible," NATO said.

[Updated at 10:20 p.m. ET, 4:20 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance talks about his encounter with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi a few hours ago:

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[Updated at 8:56 p.m. ET, 2:56 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance has posted a picture that he took of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi during Saif's brief visit to the Rixos Hotel on Tuesday morning.

Chance also reports that electricity returned to the  hotel about 10 minutes after Saif's visit. The building, where about 35 international journalists are staying, had been without power for hours.

It's not yet known how many people have been killed or injured in Tripoli since rebels began fighting forces loyal to Gadhafi in the capital over the weekend.

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[Updated at 8:22 p.m. ET, 2:22 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] More information about tonight's appearance in Tripoli of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who rebels claimed was captured on Sunday:

Video showed Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and a top official in his regime, shaking hands and greeting supporters overnight while leaning outside of a car in his armored convoy on the streets of Tripoli. He told reporters that supporters of his father Moammar Gadhafi's government "have broken the spines of those rats and those gangsters" - referring to rebel fighters who entered the capital over the weekend.

He said that on Tuesday the government's forces "will reassure the people that things are fine in Tripoli."

Asked about his being wanted by the International Criminal Court - which has issued a warrant for his arrest for his alleged participation in "crimes against humanity" - Saif al-Islam Gadhafi said, "To hell with the ICC."

Rebels had claimed that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and two of his brothers were captured on Sunday and Monday. But Saif is free, and one of the other two, Mohammed Gadhafi, was reported to have escaped Monday, according to the Libyan ambassador to the United States.

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[Updated at 8:06 p.m. ET, 2:06 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] More from Saif al-Islam Gadhafi's appearance outside Tripoli's Rixos Hotel, more than a day after rebels reported they captured him: Saif said that word about his supposed detention was a rebel trick, CNN's Matthew Chance reports.

Chance, who is with about 35 other journalists at the hotel, said an armored Land Cruiser pulled up to the hotel, and people were saying that Saif was inside. "It was just about to drive off, so I went up to it and I knocked on the window and said, 'Dr. Saif, Dr. Saif, can you open the door? We want to ... make sure it's you," Chance said.

"He opened the door, turned the lights on inside the back of this armored land cruiser, and it was indeed him. He was bearded, he looked quite thin. ... He told me that his father, Col. Gadhafi, remained in Tripoli. He said the whole family are in Tripoli."

Chance has posted this account of his encounter with Saif on Twitter: "Saif Gadhafi told me that he had been travelling around Tripoli in an armored convoy the whole time."

Earlier, Libya's ambassador to the United States told CNN that another of Gadhafi's sons, Mohammad Gadhafi, had escaped from rebel custody. The circumstances of the escape were unclear, said Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, an NTC representative.

Rebels had said Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and Mohammad Gadhafi were among three of Moammar Gadhafi's sons that they had captured since Sunday.

[Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET, 1:40 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi - who reportedly was captured by rebel forces on Sunday - made an appearance at Tripoli's Rixos Hotel early Tuesday, CNN's Matthew Chance reports.

Saif appeared outside the hotel - one of the remaining hold-outs for Gadhafi loyalists - in a convoy of armored Land Cruisers. Chance said he spoke to Saif briefly and took a photo of him.

Saif said his father and the rest of the family were in Tripoli, and that the rebels had been "lured into a trap."

There was no immediate explanation from the National Transitional Council, the rebel leadership that had announced he was in custody on Sunday.

Earlier, Libya's ambassador to the United States told CNN that another of Gadhafi's sons, Mohammad Gadhafi, had escaped from rebel custody. The circumstances of the escape were unclear, said Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, an NTC representative.

[Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET, 12:35 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance reports says he and the roughly 35 other journalists in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel - where they are essentially trapped, with Gadhafi loyalists refusing to let them leave as fighting rages outside - are running out of ways to keep in contact with people elsewhere, including their own employers.

The hotel lost power hours ago, and the journalists - who have corralled themselves in the dark in a lobby on one of the upper floors - are running out of battery power for their phones and other equipment. Chance, whose own phones are dead, talked to CNN with a satellite phone lent by a Chinese television crew.

Gunfire could still be heard outside the hotel, which is abandoned besides the journalists and gunmen loyal to Gadhafi. Fighting also appeared to happening around Gadhafi's compound near the hotel, Chance said.

The journalists have found some canned food and bottled water in the hotel's storerooms and kitchen. "Hopefully we can ... negotiate some kind of exit from this hotel, because really we don't feel we're getting much in terms of an overall picture of what's happening in Tripoli."

He said they're trying to stay away from the gunmen in the hotel, some of whom were cocking their guns and telling the reporters that they're NATO spies.

[Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET, 12:21 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Gadhafi's forces fired at least three missiles at the rebel-held city of Misrata, east of Tripoli, on Monday evening, the NATO alliance reported. NATO said it had no reports of damage or injuries, but called the launches a "direct threat to innocent people."

"Although the surface-to-surface missiles in Gadhafi's arsenal are highly inaccurate, and are not designed to hit a specific target, they are a weapon of terror," NATO said. "Their use against an urban or industrial area is utterly irresponsible."

[Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET, 11:50 p.m. in Libya] Mohammed Gadhafi - one of the three sons of the longtime Libyan leader who had been captured by rebel forces - has escaped, Libyan Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali told CNN.

The ambassador told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that after rebels found Mohammad Gadhafi at his home, he was allowed to stay there at his request. Later, Mohammad Gadhafi was "hijacked" by a different group, "maybe Gadhafi's forces," the ambassador said.

"We don't know the story how he was taken out from his house," he said.

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[Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET, 11:02 p.m. in Libya] With rebels apparently on the verge of taking Tripoli, politicians in the United States and the United Kingdom are demanding that they extradite convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi when the rebels establish control over the country, CNN's Tim Lister reports.

There has been no formal response from the rebels' National Transitional Council, but one of its representatives has previously suggested that any decision on al-Megrahi's future would have to wait for an elected government in Libya. On the NTC's own timetable that would be almost two years away.

Al-Megrahi was released from the jail on compassionate grounds in 2009 after serving eight years of a 27-year sentence for his involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He is suffering from prostate cancer and at the time of his release was given just three months to live. But two years later he is still alive and was last known to be living in Tripoli, now largely under rebel control.

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