Tuesday 21 November 2017

Rebel fighters seize Gaddafi family treasures

Damien McElroy in Tripoli

It could have been the contents of an upmarket car-boot sale but the jewel-encrusted sword waved above the rebel Libyan fighter's head told a different story.

A white pick-up filled with enough treasure to stock a small boutique was picked over by a unit of Libyan rebels sent to Tripoli to liberate its residents from 42 years of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

On top of his Nike baseball cap, Nasir Tahrar, a 16-year- old fighter, had placed a general's hat and starred epaulettes on his narrow shoulders. Despite his clownish appearance, Tahrar provided the clue to the erstwhile owner of the gear, Saadi Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's third son.

"Saadi Gaddafi's house," he said "Don't mind us, we are very tired but happy."

Not far down Tripoli's western Corniche, rebel lines had formed as regime gunmen fired shot after shot against the incoming tide of opposition supporters.

Three miles away the rebels had ringed Col Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia fortified compound. But they could not contain the menace of the regime.

While the dictator languished in his bunker or, possibly viewed the spectacle from a far-off refuge, the city he ruled with an iron fist had fractured into a free-shooting zone. It was impossible to know where the regime's roaming marksmen were likely to pop up.

Driving along Tripoli's streets was a lottery of timing as rebels from across the western mountains converged to confront the regime's fighters. As the day progressed the exchanges between the two sides became progressively heavier.

It wasn't long before the unit commander decided that outside eyes should not witness the scene and roughly shoved strangers away. There are worst fates. Saadi Gaddafi, who used a villa in the compound as a beach house, was arrested by the rebels on Sunday night in Tripoli.

Saadi, a football fanatic, was yesterday in rebel custody.

As the battles rolled only Green Square, now popularly known as Martyrs Square, had a morning after feeling. Locals were free spoken in their condemnation of Col Gaddafi. "Game over," said Abdullah Mohammad, a retired banker. "Its 99 per cent over but whatever happens he's finished." (@ Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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