Ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is believed to be hiding out near the western town of Ghadamis under the protection of Tuareg fighters, an interim government military spokesman told CNN Tuesday.
"We have reliable information that Gadhafi is
protected by the Tuareg tribe located between Niger, Algeria and Ghadamis town
in Libya," said Col. Abdul Basit.
He said Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam is in Bani Walid, and
another son, Mutassim, is in Sirte. Both cities remain contested.
Basit did not say how the interim government discovered
Gadhafi's putative whereabouts, and his assertions could not be verified. The
National Transitional Council has made similar claims that proved false.
Ghadamis is in western Libya, on the border with Algeria.
Tuareg tribesmen have helped Gadhafi loyalists escape Libya across the expanses
of the Sahel.
During his rule, Gadhafi often turned to the nomadic
Tuareg to bolster his forces and his attempts to manipulate and destabilize the
poor countries to the south of Libya: Niger, Chad and Mali.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague,
Netherlands, has issued arrest warrants for Moammar and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi.
They are wanted for alleged crimes against humanity committed after the start
of the Libyan uprising in February.
After the fall of Tripoli to revolutionary forces,
messages purportedly from Gadhafi were aired on Syrian-based television Al-Rai.
The longtime dictator has not been seen in public for months.
Libya's new leadership has been meeting in Benghazi to
discuss the formation of an interim government. Meanwhile, battles are still
raging in Sirte and Bani Walid; NATO estimates that 200,000 of Libya's 6
million people are still under threat from Gadhafi's supporters.
Near Bani Walid's front line, senior National
Transitional Council field commander Daou Al-Salhine Al Jadak was killed
Tuesday, said Abdulla Kenshill, a spokesman in Bani Walid.
"A rocket struck a truck transporting Al Jadak and
six of his aides," Kenshill said Wednesday. "They are all Libyan
martyrs of the revolution."
He described the humanitarian situation in Bani Walid as
"really bad" and said 30,000 of the city's residents had fled toward
Tripoli and 12,000 toward Sabha, in the south.
Neither side appeared to be making headway in Bani Walid,
"There are spies among our revolutionaries who send
our coordinates to the snipers and Gadhafi loyalists firing from inside Bani
Walid, and the proof is that their attacks have been precisely targeted,"
said Emad Ziglam, a field commander of the Tripoli rebels fighting outside Bani
"The mistake was mixing the rebel units. We should
not have allowed fighters from Benghazi among others to join in, since we do
not know them all. There are definitely traitors among us."
Thousands of people have fled the fighting in Sirte, the
birthplace of Gadhafi, where the strongman retains a following. The National
Transitional Council said that about 100 families left the city Wednesday.
It also said Sirte was surrounded by revolutionary fighters
but estimated that about 5,000 pro-Gadhafi fighters remained within the city.
Transitional council military commanders Jamal al-Raies
and Mohammed Ismael said its forces would wait a few days before starting any
major offensive on the city in order to give civilians there more time to
Col. Ahmed Bani said anti-Gadhafi forces had taken
control of the northern part of Sirte as well as its airport, its seaport and
the Gardabya military base.
*CNN's Mohamed Fahmy contributed to this report.