Even as the Libyan rebels claimed to have most of the capital of Tripoli under their control, the whereabouts of Moammar Gadhafi remain a mystery. Libya's opposition National Transition Council said Wednesday it was offering a $1.4 million bounty for Gadhafi's capture, dead or alive.
Jubilant rebels swarmed through Gadhafi's compound in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Azizya Tuesday, "seizing arms and smashing symbols" of the tyrant who has brutally ruled the North African nation for the past 42 years, Reuters reported from Tripoli.
At about the 2-minute mark in the video below, you can see one euphoric Libyan freedom fighter delighting in his find of what looks to be one of Gadhafi's military hats, allegedly seized from the Gadhafi compound.
Gadhafi taunted the rebels in an interview with a pro-regime radio station late Tuesday. He claimed his retreat from Azizya was a tactical matter necessitated by NATO air strikes on the compound. "I have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and ... I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger," Gadhafi said, Reuters reported. He vowed, as he typically does, to fight "until victory or martyrdom."
Rebel fighters were meantime moving Wednesday on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, over 300 miles east of Tripoli, under suspicion he may be there.
"Gadhafi sent a message [to his loyalists in Sirte] telling them to fight to the death," National Transition Council representative Hassan Droy told Reuters. "A problem is the people there are totally disconnected--they've had no electricity or telephones for three days--and they don't know what's happening."
Although there were continued clashes in Tripoli between regime loyalists and rebels, there were signs that the Libyan opposition was moving from being the government-in-waiting to the de facto Libyan government.
National Transition Council cabinet chief Mahmoud Jibril was due to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris Wednesday. France, the United States and several European nations meantime said they would move to unfreeze some of the billions of dollars in the Libyan regime assets in foreign bank accounts to the NTC, so it can provide government services. And China--a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council--said Tuesday it would support a UN mission to help assist stability efforts in post-Gadhafi Libya.
- Moammar Gadhafi