Gadhafi men flee to Niger

Gadhafi men flee to Niger

Hunt for ex-dictator continues

Gaddafi himself declared in an audio broadcast on Thursday that he was still in Libya, cursing as “rats and stray dogs” his NATO-backed opponents who are now trying to run the large, oil-producing North African country.

Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, in Tripoli for the first time since Gadhafi was driven from the capital on August 23, reminded Libyans that “the tyrant” was not yet finished.

The security sources in Niger said a party of 14 Libyans, including General Ali Kana, a Tuareg who commanded Gadhafi’s southern troops, a second general and two other top officials had arrived in Agadez in northern Niger on Thursday afternoon. The four senior officials were staying at a Gadhafi-owned hotel in the town.

Niger’s government, under pressure from Western powers and Libya’s new rulers to hand over former Gadhafi officials suspected of human rights abuses, has not yet commented. It said it accepted a convoy carrying Mansour Dhao, head of Gadhafi’s security brigades, on Monday on humanitarian grounds. Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has given Gadhafi-held bastions such as the desert town of Bani Walid, 150 km southeast of Tripoli, and the coastal city of Sirte until Saturday to surrender or face a military assault.

Some NTC officials have said Gadhafi must be captured or killed before Libya can be declared liberated and a timetable for elections and a new constitution can start running. “This is a stage where we have to unify and be together. Once the battle is finished ... the political game can start,” Jibril, head of the NTC's interim cabinet, said.

Gadhafi said in what Syrian-based Arrai TV said was a live broadcast from Libya: “We will not leave our ancestral land ... The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the rats in Tripoli.”

Backing up his words, volleys of Grad missiles flew out of Bani Walid, where NTC forces are besieging what they believe to be a hard core of about 150 pro-Gadhafi fighters.

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