Libya's Mustafa Abdul Jalil asks Nato to stay longer

Anti-Gaddafi fighters stand in front of damaged cars, October 21, 2011, after an attack by Nato on a convoy of Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte Nato helped target Gaddafi loyalists as the former Libyan leader tried to flee from Sirte

The head of Libya's transitional authorities has called for Nato to extend its mission in Libya until the end of the year.

National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the extension was needed to help Libyans trying to control surplus weapons and to deal with Gaddafi loyalists.

Nato has delayed a making a formal decision on when to end its mission.

It had made a preliminary decision to end operations on 31 October.

Diplomats had been expected to confirm that date on Wednesday.

"We hope (Nato) will continue its campaign until at least the end of this year to serve us and neighbouring countries," Mr Jalil told a gathering in Qatar of states that have supported the NTC's military campaign.

He said his appeal was aimed at "ensuring that no arms are infiltrated into those countries and to ensure the security of Libyans from some remnants of [ex-leader Col Muammar] Gaddafi's forces who have fled to nearby countries".

Mr Jalil added that the NTC wanted help "developing Libya's defence and security systems".

Nato, which has been operating in Libya since March under a UN mandate to protect civilians, said it would now make a formal decision on the length of its mission on Friday.

"As agreed, NATO continues to monitor the situation on the ground, and retains the capability to respond to any threats to civilians," said Nato spokeswoman Carmen Romero.

"The situation remains calm as the NTC continues to establish its authority."

Rights concerns

Speaking on the sidelines of the Qatar meeting, Qatari chief of staff Maj Gen Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya told Agence France-Presse that his country had deployed ground troops in Libya.

"The numbers of Qataris on ground were hundreds in every region," he was quoted as saying.

The small but gas-rich Gulf state, which has played a dynamic role in Libya, had previously acknowledged contributing to Nato's air campaign there.

Meanwhile, the NTC came under pressure from human rights bodies following questions surrounding the death of Col Gaddafi last week, and allegations that NTC forces may have executed dozens of their opponents.

"I call on all the armed forces to avoid any act of reprisal and arbitrary repression against both Libyans and foreigners," said Philippe Kirsch, the head of a UN commission of enquiry on Libya.

Col Gaddafi was shot dead after he was captured alive in his birthplace, Sirte.

NTC officials have suggested he was caught in crossfire, but rights groups have voiced concerns that he and his son Mutassim were summarily executed.

In recent days, images have emerged from video footage of the moments after Col Gaddafi's capture that appear to show him being sodomised with a pole or knife.

In a statement, the NTC said it attached "great importance" to the humane treatment of prisoners and that fair trials would be guaranteed.

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