Gadafi Burning Man

por lofredo

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“I can tell you that I spoke with Gaddafi very recently,” Juburi told AFP.

“He is in Libya, in very good spirits, feels strong, is not afraid, and would be happy to die fighting against the occupiers,” Juburi, a former Iraqi MP who owns the Syria-based channel, said by telephone.

“His son Seif al-Islam is in the same state of mind,” added Juburi, whose channel has broadcast a number of audio messages by Gaddafi his son since they went into hiding after Tripoli was overrun by rebel fighters last month.

Asked how he makes contact with Gaddafi, Juburi said: “When I need to talk to him, I send him a message, or he contacts me when he wants to pass a message.”

Libya’s new rulers are anxious to arrest Gaddafii and put him on trial, thus sealing their hold on the country.

They are fearful he may slip across a border into a neighbouring country, particularly Niger, where a convoy carrying other senior officials of his ousted regime fled to on Monday.

Bidding to cut off Gaddafi’s potential escape routes, the now-ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) said it had dispatched a team to Niamey.

“We have sent a delegation today that is going to Niger to talk … about securing our borders to stop any kind of infiltration of Gaddafi troops to Niger, to stop any attempt by Kadhafi or his family to escape to Niger,” Fathi Baja, head of the NTC’s political affairs committee, told reporters.

“We ask any neighbouring countries to stop Gaddafi people from going to their land,” Fathi said, speaking to reporters in the eastern city of Benghazi.

When asked about the convoy that crossed to Niger reportedly carrying money and gold, he replied: “We don’t know how much money this convoy was transporting but according to what we know, security reports provided by groups in this region, from phone contacts and certain people’s dispatches, we can say that they have seen money and gold in these cars.”

He added: “If that happened, we want that money back.”

The large convoy of civilian and military vehicles entered Niger late Monday and drove through the city of Agadez.

Niger was adamant Gaddafi was not with the convoy while Washington said that while some senior officials of the ousted regime were in the convoy, the fallen dictator was not believed to be among them.

Gaddafi’s remaining forces have been a given a Saturday deadline to surrender and lay down their arms, in a bid to spare further bloodshed.

At Bani Walid, 170 kilometres (105 miles) southeast of Tripoli, negotiators were still seeking to orchestrate the peaceful surrender of the oasis town.

“The negotiations were successful yesterday and we are waiting for the NTC to give us the green light to go in,” said the NTC’s chief negotiator, Abdullah Kenshil.

NTC leaders say they are committed to avoiding bloodshed in Bani Walid, even after a delegation sent to the town on Tuesday retreated after being fired upon.

“The elders have joined the revolution,” Kenshil said, adding some of them were in Tripoli and others were back in Bani Walid after armed men loyal to Gaddafi initially prevented them from returning.

In the hamlet of Wishtata, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the front, Colonel Abdullah Abu Asara said his volunteer fighters were ready for any eventuality.

“We are fully ready to attack, we are just waiting for the command from the National Transitional Council, we are under their command now,” he told AFP.

NTC forces, meanwhile, advanced at least eight kilometres (five miles) towards Sirte in heavy fighting on Tuesday, commanders said, stressing that the clashes did not mark the launch of an all-out bid to capture the city.

One government soldier was killed and two wounded, while at least one of Kadhafi’s men lost his life, the commanders added.

The fighting east of Sirte brought NTC fighters to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of the city, one commander told AFP.

“The clashes were very intense,” said the commander, Mustafa Bendardaf. “Five enemy vehicles were taken out. Three were destroyed in NATO air strikes and two were captured by our men.”

NATO in its latest operational update released on Wednesday said its warplanes had bombed six tanks, six armoured fighting vehicles, four armed vehicles, a munitions store and an artillery piece in Sirte the previous day.