Africa

Libya conflict: Gaddafi sons 'left Bani Walid'

  • 5 September 2011
  • From the section Africa
Anti-Gaddafi forces near Bani Walid, 4 Sept
Anti-Gaddafi forces have moved into positions around Bani Walid

Two sons of fugitive Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi were holed up in the town of Bani Walid until Saturday but have now left, says the head of the country's interim authorities.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil told the BBC that Saif al-Islam and Mutassim Gaddafi had been blocking the town's surrender.

Earlier, rebels said negotiations for Bani Walid's surrender had broken down and an assault was imminent.

But Mr Abdul Jalil said the talks would continue until a deadline on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a senior anti-Gaddafi commander is demanding an apology from the UK and the US over his capture and torture in Libya in 2004.

Their role has been revealed in CIA papers found when offices and prisons in Tripoli were captured by anti-Gaddafi forces belonging to the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Details of the case of Abdel Hakim Belhaj are included in messages sent to the Gaddafi government by US and British intelligence services.

Relations between Col Gaddafi's government and China have also been revealed.

Other documents found in Tripoli show Chinese arms manufacturers held talks as recently as July with Gaddafi government officials who were seeking arms and ammunition, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

The colonel's representatives visited Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said, but no contracts were signed and no shipments were made.

A UN embargo on such sales was in place at the time.

Fears of revenge

NTC forces have moved into position near Bani Walid, 150km (95 miles) south-east of the capital Tripoli.

Bani Walid is one of four towns and cities - the others are Jufra, Sabha and Col Gaddafi's birthplace in Sirte - still controlled by Gaddafi supporters.

Senior members of the anti-Gaddafi forces surrounding the town say the negotiations have now stopped - and were never serious because pro-Gaddafi forces continued to fire while the talks were going on.

Negotiator Abdullah Kenchil told the BBC the loyalists had wanted anti-Gaddafi forces to enter the town unarmed.

He said he feared civilians could be shot in revenge or used as human shields.

As well as being a Gaddafi stronghold, Bani Walid is also the home of the biggest and most powerful Libyan tribe, the Warfalla.

The whereabouts of Col Gaddafi remain unclear, but Mr Kenchil said his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had only left the town on Saturday, heading to an unknown destination further south.

Meanwhile Col Gaddafi's chief of security, Mansour Daw, is reported to have crossed into neighbouring Niger.

He arrived in the northern city of Agadez along with 10 other people, Reuters quoted unnamed Niger officials as saying.

Mr Jalil, who is chairman of the NTC, said the pro-Gaddafi bastions were being given humanitarian aid and time to surrender "to avoid further bloodshed".

For now, the NTC is preaching a gospel of reconciliation, says BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who is Tripoli. The NTC does not want to start off as a government with a bloody fight in Bani Walid, he adds.

Documents uncovered in Tripoli show a close relationship between Western intelligence agencies and Col Gaddafi's government, which is known to have used torture.

The documents mention the names of several people targeted for rendition - the extrajudicial arrest and transfer of terrorism suspects - including Tripoli's new rebel military commander, Abdel Hakim Belhaj.

Mr Belhaj, who has been congratulated by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for his role in ousting Col Gaddafi's government from Tripoli, says he wants an apology from London and Washington.

After Col Gaddafi came in from the cold, Libya and its prison system became an important part of the war on terror, our correspondent says.

Shortly before the fall of Tripoli, a close advisor to Col Gaddafi told our correspondent that MI6 had been working them in the Libyan capital right up until the start of the uprising, in February.

Map

Are you in Libya? How have you been affected by recent events? Please send us your comments using the form below.

Required field

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions