Gaddafi’s son defiant as rebels’ advance stutters

Tripoli, Aug 23: Libyan rebels declared the Gaddafi era over after storming Tripoli, but one of the veteran strongman’s sons insisted the battle was far from done as he defiantly refuted reports of his arrest.

Exultant rebel fighters packed in trucks and cars have since Sunday streamed across the capital of the oil-rich North African state, seizing control of Muammar Gaddafi’s state television network and Tripoli’s seaside Green Square.

But the euphoria of their lightning entry into the heart of the capital with seemingly little resistance has given way to a sense of caution and warnings that the battle to oust Gaddafi is far from won.

US President Barack Obama called for “an inclusive transition” in Libya, demanding that Gaddafi “explicitly” give up power and cautioned the rebels that their struggles were “not over yet.”

French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet, who on Monday had declared “The regime has fallen, the turnaround is total”, said on France Inter radio today: “In Libya the situation is not totally at an end, far from it.”

Meanwhile, a ship chartered to evacuate around 300 foreigners from Tripoli has been delayed due to the poor security situation, the International Organisation for Migration said.

With gunfire still crackling around Tripoli, loyalist snipers hiding on rooftops and the fact the rebels have been unable to penetrate Gaddafi’s tightly-guarded Bab al-Azizya compound, there is a growing sense that their advance has begun to stutter. 

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