Dictator 'capable of final awful act' before his capture
THE head of Libya's rebel movement said yesterday that Col Muammar Gaddafi remained a serious threat to the country and to the world, capable of one final "awful" act before he was caught.
As rebel forces moved closer to Sirte, the last Gaddafi stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, they were slowing their advance to allow talks to continue for its surrender.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council, said he feared Gaddafi supporters remained capable of brutal counter-attacks.
The former dictator is thought to have a stockpile of weapons in Sirte, including Scud missiles and possibly mustard gas.
"Gaddafi is still capable is doing something awful in the last moments," Abdel Jalil said in Qatar, the tiny Gulf state that has poured millions of dollars, arms and equipment into rebel hands.
He added: "I call for continued protection from NATO and its allies from this tyrant. He is still a threat, not just for Libyans but for the entire world."
It is more than a week since rebels poured into Tripoli. Since then they have secured much of the city and their political leaders have begun moving from the rebel base of Benghazi to the capital.
The British Foreign Office announced last night that a team of officials had begun work in Tripoli towards the reopening of the British Embassy.
Meanwhile, rebel commanders said they were battling regime forces at Nawfaliyah, 60 miles to the east of Sirte, as the noose tightened around Gaddafi's home town. Hassan Droy, the Sirte representative in the rebel leadership, who is leading negotiations for a peaceful takeover, said regime figures were whipping up anger against the opposition.
There were fresh reports of NATO air strikes in the area.
The whereabouts of Gaddafi remains unknown.
A senior rebel commander said his forces lacked aircraft to seal Libya's borders to prevent him fleeing the country. He said he believed Gaddafi was with Touareg allies close to the border with Algeria.
Human rights groups continued to investigate claims that thousands of people had been killed as Gaddafi forces fled. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)