Gaddafi's son 'flees to Niger'

Battles continue for holdout towns as Nigerien officials say Saadi Gaddafi has crossed into the country from Libya.

    Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has called for a united front against the remaining forces of Muammar Gaddafi on a day when a son of the former Libyan leader entered Niger and the leader of his external spy service was arrested.

    Al Jazeera correspondent Yvonne Ndege, in Niger's northern city of Agadez, was told by security sources that a convoy of eight or nine vehicles was stopped while passing through the desert that separates the two countries.

    "The vehicles were intercepted by Niger's authorities and it was found that Gaddafi's son, Saadi Gaddafi, and other senior officials were onboard the convoy," said Ndege.

    The report was also confirmed by Marou Adamou, Niger's government spokesman and also its minister of justice.

    "At this moment the convoy is en route to Agadez [in northern Niger]. The convoy could arrive in Niamey [the capital] between now and tomorrow," Adamou said.

    Saadi, 38, the third of Gaddafi's seven sons, gave up a football career in 2004 to join the army, where he led a special forces unit.

    He is currently subject to UN sanctions banning him from international travel.

    In March he was included on an Interpol "orange notice" list of Gaddafi relatives and associates considered to be dangerous individuals and suspected of being complicit in attacks on civilian populations.

    The notice says Saadi is suspected of "commanding military units involved in the repression of demonstrations".

    Separately on Sunday, Bouzaid Dorda, the head of Gaddafi's external security organisation, was arrested in Tripoli. The former prime minister is expected to be handed over to the NTC and is one of several former government officials rounded up since Tripoli fell last month.

    'Divisions emerge'

    Mahmoud Jibril, the deputy head of the NTC, meanwhile, told reporters in Tripoli that an interim administration would be formed within 10 days.

    Jibril also called all of the forces fighting against Gaddafi to come "under the umbrella of the NTC".

    Jibril added: "Negotiations with other brigades across Libya are still ongoing and they are going well. This is to legitimise the only legitimate government of Libya."

    Reporting from Tripoli after Jabril's speech, Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra described the decision to bring all the military councils under the authority of the NTC as a "turning point" but added that it could lead to divisions between the political and military branches of the new government.

    "The military council rejects the idea of joining the NTC and they are considering this move an attack to hijack their revolution and [weaken] their authority. They say they are the ones who have been fighting Colonel Gaddafi for six months, and they are the ones who should represent the wish of the Libyan people," Ahelbarra said.

    He continued: "Sources from the military council told Al Jazeera that they reject the move and they will now ask for Mahmoud Jibril to quit. This is quite significant; it shows that differences and divisions are beginning to emerge."

    Waiting game

    Earlier on Sunday, the NTC said its fighters were holding back from an assault on Bani Walid, one of the last bastions loyal to Gaddafi, after fighting their way into the town and finding civilians in peril.

    "We are inside Bani Walid, we control big chunks of the city. There are still pockets of resistance," a fighter named Sabhil Warfalli said as he drove away from the frontline.

    Ahmed Bani, an NTC spokesman, told reporters the plan for Bani Walid for now was to wait.

    "When our forces entered Bani Walid they found the brigades of Gaddafi using citizens as shields," he told reporters. "We entered to prove that we can, and saw with our own eyes Grad missiles over the roofs and they were using civilians."

    "There are houses full of families and they are just standing outside that house, and also missiles over that house, so we are unable to strike the house because we know there are civilians inside. Also NATO can do nothing. So we prefer to return and surround Bani Walid until the young men inside have a solution," he said.

    Inside the town, a pro-Gaddafi local radio station appealed for the city's 100,000 people to fight to the death.

    "We urge the people of Bani Walid to defend the city against the rats and armed gangs. Don't back down. Fight to the death. We are waiting for you. You are just a bunch of gangsters. God is on our side," an announcer said.

    Meanwhile NTC fighters moving towards Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown which remains in the hands of his supporters, continued to face resistance as they advanced to about 90km east of the town.

    "There were clashes this morning and Gaddafi forces were firing Grad rockets, but we managed to advance a little bit and we will enter Sirte very soon," fighter Salah al-Shaery said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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