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Rebels reject Gadhafi's offer of talks on transitional government

(China Daily)

10:51, August 29, 2011

A Libyan rebel stands guard near the entrance of oil hub Ras Lanuf on Saturday. Rebels on Sunday rejected an offer by Muammar Gadhafi to negotiate. (Photo from China Daily)

TRIPOLI, Libya - Libyan rebels on Sunday rejected an offer by Muammar Gadhafi to negotiate and said they have captured the eastern town of Bin Jawwad, forcing Gadhafi loyalists to flee after days of fighting.

The opposition fighters have threatened to advance westward on the coastal road toward Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte if tribal leaders there don't agree to surrender peacefully.

The fighting in the east comes as the rebels consolidated their hold on the capital, Tripoli, some 560 km to the west of Bin Jawwad.

Mohammed al-Rajali, a spokesman for the rebels on the eastern frontlines, said they captured Bin Jawwad at about 10 pm on Saturday and deployed forces in the city after days of fighting.

He said Gadhafi's forces fled westward and were likely to join fellow loyalists in Sirte, the headquarters of Gadhafi's tribe and his last major bastion of support.

The opposition has threatened to assault the city, which has been heavily targeted by NATO airstrikes, if tribal leaders there refuse a peaceful surrender.

With Gadhafi on the run, his spokesman Moussa Ibrahim called The Associated Press on Saturday to say Gadhafi is still in Libya and offering to have his son, al-Saadi, lead talks with the rebels on forming a transitional government. In the past, Gadhafi referred to the rebels as "thugs" and "rats".

Ibrahim said he saw Gadhafi on Friday in Libya but would not give more details.

Mahmoud Shammam, the information minister in the rebels' transitional council, rejected the offer.

"I would like to state very clearly, we don't recognize them. We are looking at them as criminals. We are going to arrest them very soon," he said.

Foreigners evacuated

Around 1,000 Egyptians, Jordanians and Filipinos were loaded onto a passenger ferry to escape continuing instability and shortages in Tripoli.

The boat was organized by the International Organization for Migration to help non-Libyans seeking to leave Libya whose home countries do not have the means to evacuate them.

Most of the evacuees said they planned to return to their jobs in Libya once the situation calmed down.

Since rebels swept Tripoli a week ago, the usual routes to the Tunisian border have been closed and the capital has been wracked by shortages and sporadic fighting.

At the beginning of the uprising against the government in February, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers fled the country.

Associated Press


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