25 Aug 2011

Reward offered for Gaddafi capture

10:19 pm on 25 August 2011

Libyan rebels say they now control nearly all of the country but long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi remains elusive.

NATO says it is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assistance to rebels as they continue the hunt for Colonel Gaddafi and his sons.

The rebels say they now control nearly all of the north African country but are still fighting some areas in the capital Tripoli and several towns controlled by Gaddafi loyalists.

The rebels have announced an amnesty for anyone within Colonel Gaddafi's "inner circle" who captures or kills him and a $US1.7 million reward, the BBC reports.

The fugitive leader has vowed in an audio message to fight until victory or martyrdom. His sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli was overrun on Tuesday, though there were firefights within the complex on Wednesday.

However, Colonel Gaddafi's forces are still firmly in control of his birthplace - the strategic coastal city of Sirte - as well as several key bases in southern Libya.

Rebel commanders say it vital to capture him to eliminate any chance he could strike back.

The National Transitional Council's plan to move its headquarters from Benghazi to Tripoli has been postponed until next week at the earliest, because the capital is not yet secure.

The rebels on Wednesday confirmed their assault on Tripoli at the weekend was the result of a long planned operation co-ordinated with NATO.

Under an operation called Mermaid Dawn, rebel fighters were trained in Benghazi, then sent undercover to the capital to wait for a pre-planned signal to fight.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports celebrations have been continuing in Green Square in Tripoli. Law and order does not appear to have broken down, but armed residents continue to operate makeshift checkpoints with the help of rebel fighters.