Gaddafi fled to Zimbabwe, seen with Mugabe
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has fled Libya to Zimbabwe on a jet provided by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, it was claimed today, as rebels began the march on his home town.
President Mugabe’s political opponents claim their spies saw Gaddafi arrive in the country on a Zimbabwe Air Force jet in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
They say the Libyan dictator was taken to a mansion in Harare’s Gunninghill suburb, where agents from his all-female bodyguard were apparently seen patrolling the grounds.
‘There’s no doubt that Gaddafi is here as a ‘unique guest’ of Mugabe,’ a spokesman for Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change told the Sun.
If he has left Libya, Gaddafi could have fled from an airbase in his home town of Sirte, which has been bombarded by Nato warplanes in recent days.
The colonel’s bunker in the coastal town was blitzed by cruise missiles fired by British Tornado jets on a long-range sortie last night.The claims come as:Journalists find evidence of mass graves in Tripoli filled with the bodies of as many as 150 killed in a massacre
Rebel commanders claimed victory in a vital border town and announced they are to merge their fighters in Tripoli under one command;
Leaders of the National Transitional Council (NTC) pressed foreign governments to release Libyan funds frozen overseas;
The British Government pledged to fund humanitarian invervention by the Red Cross;
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked for international organisations’ help in ensuring an urgent end to fighting and restoration of order in Libya.
As Tripoli came under full rebel control today, journalists from Sky News reported that they had seen evidence of a mass grave after as many as 150 were massacred.
Stuart Ramsay, the news network’s chief correspondent, said he had counted 53 bodies in a burnt out warehouse shown to him by locals, who said the people there were murdered earlier this week.
Among the dead were two Libyan army soldiers, their hands tied behind their backs, he said, adding: ‘Locals believed they refused to fire and were then murdered.’
Earlier Libyan rebels claimed victory in Ras Jdir, raising their flag at the border post with Tunisia after bloody clashes with regime loyalists.
There was no sign of a swift end to the civil war, which rebels have vowed will only end when Gaddafi is captured – dead or alive – but they claimed to be closing in on the strongman.
A detachment of rebel fighters was turning its attention to Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace, 300 miles east of Tripoli, where British warplanes have bombarded a bunker with cruise missiles.
Some believe that Gaddafi, if he remains in the country, may seek refuge among his tribesmen in the Mediterranean city, which is still holding out against the rebel advance.
Loyalist forces also still hold positions deep in the Sahara desert, days after rebels took much of the capital, looted Gaddafi’s compound and paraded their stolen souvenirs.
‘Sirte remains an operating base from which pro-Gaddafi troops project hostile forces against Misrata and Tripoli,’ said a Nato official, adding that its forces had also acted to stop a column of 29 vehicles heading west toward Misrata.
Meanwhile, leaders of the NTC, the rebel administration, pressed foreign governments to release Libyan funds frozen abroad.
It says the money is urgently needed to impose order and provide services to a population traumatised by six months of civil conflict and 42 years of dictatorial rule.
But Gaddafi’s African allies have continued to offer a grain of comfort to the under-pressure dictator by refusing to recognise the legal government.
The African Union called for the formation of an inclusive transitional government in Libya, saying it could not recognise the rebels as sole legitimate representatives of the nation while fighting continues.
If fighting continues unchecked, there are fears that Libya’s conflict will spill over into the remote regions of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania.
Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside Libya, and large quantities of weapons circulating there, are already being exploited by al Qaeda’s North African branch.And an influential former Malian rebel, believed to have been involved in the trade of looted weapons from Libya, has been killed in Mali, officials said yesterday.
However, taking control of the Ras Jdir border post reopens a path for humanitarian aid and other supplies from Tunisia to Tripoli, where stocks of medicines and fuel are running low.
The Red Cross today announced that medical support funded by the British Government will help thousands of patients injured during the conflict in Libya, as well as those with serious diseases.
Surgical teams and medicines will be laid on to help up to 5,000 wounded, as well as food and household essentials for almost 690,000.
Red Cross spokesman Steven Anderson said: ‘Medical supplies are one of the main problems that will help people on the ground out there.
‘Many drugs are lacking and the import has been slowed down. Even drugs for cancer, diabetes, kidney failure are running out and that is a real issue.’
The support comes amid reports of harrowing conditions in one Tripoli hospital – the abandoned Abu Salim hospital – where dozens of decomposing bodies were piled up.
It will also include helping families reunite after being broken up by the conflict.