Civilians flee pro-Gaddafi town ahead of assault

Sep 14, 2011, 12:05 a.m.
Civilians flee as forces clash in Bani Walid, September 12, 2011. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

"Our understanding is, like the others, he's being detained in a state guest house," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington on Tuesday.

"It's essentially a house arrest in this government facility, is our understanding," she said, adding that Niger was working with Libya's interim rulers on the issue.

Niger said on Monday it was keeping Saadi Gaddafi under surveillance but had not detained him.

In Tripoli, officials trying to re-establish security said they needed to integrate the fighters who toppled Gaddafi into the police force to ensure the revolution's legitimacy.

Osama Abu Ras, a member of the Supreme Security Committee for Tripoli, told Reuters that Gaddafi's forces remained capable of firing missiles and the capital could become a target for such attacks.

"We have a very strong (military) front now in our favor but there is a threat of some missiles, including Grad missiles, and rockets. This could be a real threat," he said.

While Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), have remained elusive, three Gaddafi officials were reported to be in NTC custody.

Abdel Hafid Zlitni, a former Central Bank governor and finance minister, was captured in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, NTC sources said on Tuesday.

They also said Mohammed Zwei, parliament speaker and a former ambassador to Britain, had been captured in the past week. Senior military officer Mustapha Kharroubi was also now under the NTC's watch, witnesses said.

Kharroubi is a veteran Gaddafi official and one of the few remaining officers who participated in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power. It is believed he handed himself over to NTC officials late last month but this could not immediately be confirmed.

Two of Gaddafi's sons and his only biological daughter have made their way to Algeria. One son is reported to have died in the war and three others, including Saif, are still on the run.

(Additional reporting by William Maclean, Hisham el-Dani and Alexander Dziadosz in Tripoli, Sherine El Madany in Ras Lanuf, Emma Farge in Benghazi and Barry Malone in Tunis; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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