Libya rebels seize eastern town from regime

The opposition fighters have threatened to advance westward on the coastal road toward Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte if tribal leaders there don't agree to surrender peacefully. The fighting in the east comes as the rebels consolidated their hold on the capital, Tripoli, some 560 kilometers to the west of Bin Jawwad.

With Gadhafi on the run, his spokesman Moussa Ibrahim called The Associated Press Saturday to say Gadhafi is still in Libya and offering to have his son, al-Saadi, lead talks with the rebels on forming a transitional government.

In the past, Gadhafi referred to the rebels as "thugs" and "rats." Ibrahim said he saw Gadhafi Friday in Libya but would not give more details.

Mahmoud Shammam, the information minister in the rebels' transitional council, rejected the offer.

"I would like to state very clearly, we don't recognize them. We are looking at them as criminals. We are going to arrest them very soon," he said at a news conference. "Talking about negotiations is a daydream for what remains of the dictatorship."

Meanwhile, more signs emerged of arbitrary killings of detainees and civilians by Libyan forces as the rebels swept into Tripoli earlier this week, including some 50 charred corpses found in a makeshift lockup near a military base that had been run by the Khamis Brigade, an elite unit commanded by Gadhafi's son, Khamis.

Mabrouk Abdullah, who said he survived a massacre by Gadhafi's forces, also told The Associated Press that guards opened fired at some 130 civilian detainees in a hangar near the military base, and fired again when prisoners tried to flee.

Abdullah, who was at the site today, said he and other prisoners were told by a guard they would be released Tuesday. Instead, guards threw hand grenades and opened fire at detainees huddling in a hangar.

Abdullah said he had been crouching along a wall and was shot in his side, lifting his shirt to show his injury. As survivors of the initial attack tried to flee, they came under fire again, he said.

The killings by Gadhafi troops appeared to have taken place in the past week, as rebel fighters gradually took control of Tripoli, according to a witness and international rights groups.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Sunday it has gathered evidence indicating that Gadhafi loyalists killed at least 17 detainees and arbitrarily executed dozens of civilians as rebels moved into Tripoli.

Reporters touring Tripoli have found clusters of decomposing corpses in several areas of the capital, including a roundabout near Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya stronghold.

"The evidence we have been able to gather so far strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling," said Sarah Leah Witson of Human Rights Watch.

The group spoke to another Tripoli resident, Osama Al-Swayi, who said he survived a massacre at a building of the Libyan Internal Security service in the Gargur neighborhood on Monday.

Al-Swayi said he had been detained by soldiers from the Khamis Brigade two days before the shooting. Twenty-five people were detained in the building, he said.

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