Rebels put a price of 2 million dinars (US$1.67 million) on the head of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, dead or alive, Transitional National Council (NTC) said yesterday.
“The NTC supports the initiative of businessmen who are offering 2 million dinars for the capture of Muammar Qaddafi, dead or alive,” council boss Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Tripoli.
Fighting raged yesterday near Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizya compound, a day after it was captured by rebels, as loyalist troops staged a fightback and the strongman boasted he went walkabout.
Thick smoke hung over the complex, where rebels and Qaddafi’s forces were fighting with light weapons, heavy machineguns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, a reporter said.
Fighting also spread to the nearby Abu Slim area, where loyalist troops were on the attack.
Rebel commanders said they were determined to push the loyalist troops out of the area, which houses the Rixos Al Naasr hotel where about 30 foreign journalists are trapped by the fighting.
The whereabouts of Qaddafi and his family remained a mystery. Wherever he may indeed be, he is still managing to get his messages out. In a speech carried early yesterday by the Web site of a television station headed by his son, Seif al-Islam, Qaddafi said he had abandoned his compound in a “tactical withdrawal” after it had been wrecked by NATO warplanes.
“Bab al-Azizya was nothing but a heap of rubble after it was the target of 64 NATO missiles and we withdrew from it for tactical reasons,” he said.
In a later audio message on Syria-based Arrai Oruba television station, Qaddafi boasted that he had taken to the streets of Tripoli without being recognized.
“I walked incognito, without anyone seeing me, and I saw youths ready to defend their city,” he said.
Meanwhile, Britain said it was working with allies at the UN to unfreeze Libyan assets blocked by Security Council sanctions. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would recognize the Libyan rebels if they “unite the country.”
China has asked the UN to lead post-war reconstruction in Libya, urging a smooth political transition, and said it was willing to help with efforts to return stability to the nation.
Meanwhile, the Libyan consul in Manila, Faraj Zarroug, said at least 85 percent of Libya’s 165 missions now recognized the interim rebel government of the TNC.