Gaddafi son, reported killed, appears on TV

Gaddafi son, reported killed, appears on TV

The images of Khamis Gaddafi, who commands one of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military, come as the rebel leadership, known as the National Transition Council, grapples with fallout from the killing of its top military chief, Abdel-Fattah Younis, possibly by other rebels.

The rebels had claimed on Friday that the younger Gaddafi was killed in a NATO airstrike on the western front-line town of Zlitan - a report that Tripoli dismissed as an attempt to deflect attention from Younis' killing. Younis' body was found two weeks ago, dumped outside the rebel's de facto eastern capital, Benghazi, along with the bodies of two colonels who were his top aides. They had been shot and their bodies burned.

Tensions over Younis' death spurred the leaders to sack their own Cabinet late Monday and yesterday ordered the movement's various armed factions to integrate in hopes of imposing some order.

"One good thing that could come of Younis' assassination is that the rebels will try to get the groups together and develop a coherent military force," said Libya expert Ronald Bruce St John. "Then they will have a better chance to overthrow Gaddafi."

Khamis Gaddafi's appearance at a Tripoli hospital yesterday, if genuine, would make the first time he has been seen in public since the reports of his death. The younger Gaddafi was shown visiting several people wounded in a NATO airstrike. The footage could add to the troubles of the opposition, raising questions about the veracity of their reports even as they try to shore up their image after Younis' killing through the Cabinet reshuffle.

The United States welcomed the their reorganisation. The State Department said it was a sign the national council, which the US and others recognise as Libya's legitimate government, is using Younis' slaying as an opportunity for "reflection" and "renewal" by firing its executive committee.

The Libyan revolt began in mid-February, with the rebels quickly wresting control of much of the eastern half of the country, as well as pockets in the west. Six months on, the conflict has settled into a stalemate.

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