Anti-Gaddafi troops appear poised to take one of the former dictator’s last remaining strongholds by force after talks with tribal elders broke down, according to Sky sources. The National Transitional Council (NTC) had been in negotiations with tribal elders for a peaceful handover of Bani Walid, which is currently occupied by armed Gaddafi loyalists.But Sky’s Emma Hurd said tribesmen had apparently come under fire from pro-Gaddafi fighters as they returned from the talks with a message of peace.
She said NTC leaders now appeared to have washed their hands of the negotiations because pro-Gaddafi forces were so determined to defend Bani Walid, raising the threat of more bloodshed.t comes after the NTC gave areas loyal to Col Gaddafi, including Jufra, Sabha and the former Libyan leader’s birthplace in Sirte, another week to surrender and avoid violence.Meanwhile, there are reports Col Gaddafi has fled from Libya as 11 members of his entourage were said to have escaped across the Niger-Libya border.Pictures: Anti-Gaddafi Forces Close In On Bani Walid.There are unconfirmed reports the colonel – whose whereabouts have remained a mystery – was among the group, thought to include security chief Mansour Daw.
Daw was said to be at the head of the convoy as it rolled into Niger’s capital, Niamey.But Col Gaddafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, insisted he remained in Libya and that he and his sons were ready to fight to the death.US officials have urged Niger to detain any senior officials from the regime.US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, has said that while Col Gaddafi is still on the run, there is no clue of his whereabouts.Bani Walid, with a population of about 100,000, is one of the deposed leader’s last strongholds. It is home to the powerful Warfala tribe of about one million people, who have been loyal to the ousted regime.Col Gaddafi’s most high-profile son, Saif al Islam, reportedly fled to the town soon after the fall of Tripoli.
On Monday, NTC negotiator Mahmoud Abdul Azil said anti-Gaddafi forces were just six miles (10km) away from Bani Walid and moving forward, ready to attack what he said were about 100 pro-Gaddafi fighters there, if necessary.Meanwhile, the grim toll from the months of conflict in Libya continues to slowly emerge.A doctor at a Tripoli hospital told Sky News she believes as many as 30,000 men are missing.Dr Aman Said Hamad said she feared they might never be traced – believing many were now dead.Many relatives of Libya’s “disappeared” have begun posting pictures of their loved ones at hospitals as it is only now, with the fall of Col Gaddafi’s regime, that they can hope to find them. – Skynews