Chief of Libya's ex-rebels arrives in capital

Chief of Libya's ex-rebels arrives in capital

But even as Libya's new leaders tried to consolidate control over the vast country, Gaddafi loyalists pushed back hard against an assault on the town of Bani Walid, one of Gaddafi's remaining strongholds, in a sign that the battle is far from over.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the anti-Gaddafi forces' National Transitional Council, landed yesterday at an air force base on the outskirts of Tripoli. A faded red carpet was rolled out, and hundreds of fighters and officials in suits rushed toward the plane as he walked down the steps. Some flashed victory signs or shouted "God is great."

Abdul-Jalil was mobbed by the crowd as he tried to make his way to the air force building. A fistfight broke out between two men after Abdul-Jalil was rushed inside, and one waved his pistol in the air. Other men trying to shove their way in knocked over a metal detector and a large potted plant.

After meeting with local leaders inside, Abdul-Jalil called for unity among Libyans to finish the fight against Gaddafi loyalists. He also called for forgiveness to allow Libyans to rebuild the country.

Abdul-Jalil's arrival was meant to show that the former rebels are getting ready to establish their government in the capital. Until now, most of leaders of the anti-Gaddafi movement had been based in the eastern city of Benghazi.