Gadhafi Believed to Have Fled Tripoli for Northwest City of Bani Walid

Coordinator of the Tripoli military operations room believes overthrown Libyan leader gone to Bani Walid with a son, Saif al-Islam, three days after the capital fell to rebel forces last week.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi is believed to be in the desert town of Bani Walid about 150 (95 miles) southeast of Tripoli, a top military commander of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Thursday.

Abdel Majid Mlegta, coordinator of the Tripoli military operations room, told Reuters "someone we trust" had said Gadhafi had gone to Bani Walid with a son, Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi three days after the capital fell to rebel forces last week.

Muammar Gadhafi – Haaretz Archive
Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi on April 27, 2004.Bloomberg News

"They wanted to set up an operations room there and conduct aggressive operations against us," he said. "We have talked to notables from Bani Walid to arrest him and hand him over. They haven't responded. We are assessing our position."

The commander said Ali al-Ahwal, Gadhafi's coordinator for tribes, was also in Bani Walid, a bastion of the powerful Warfalla tribe, Libya's biggest.

"In four days we will come with up a solution. We are capable of ending the crisis but military action is out of the question right now," Mlegta said.

"We cannot attack this tribe because many of our brigades in Benghazi and Zintan are from Bani Walid. The sons of Bani Walid hold the key to the solution."

NTC fighters said earlier this week that they were 30 km (20 miles) from Bani Walid. The NTC has given pro-Gadhafi forces in the coastal city of Sirte, the deposed leader's hometown, until Saturday to surrender or face attack.