Bloomberg News

Libya Leaders Vow to Remove Weapons From Tripoli to Restore Calm

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s interim administration pledged to restore calm and remove heavy weapons from the capital, Tripoli, and said two of Muammar Qaddafi’s sons may be leading loyalists in his last strongholds.

Heavy weapons have no place in Tripoli, Ahmed Bani,the National Transitional Council’s military spokesman, told reporters yesterday in the capital, where gunfire is regularly heard a month after NTC forces took control of the city.

Qaddafi’s presumed heir, Saif Al Islam, is in Bani Walid and another son, Mutassim, a former security adviser, may be in the family’s hometown of Sirte, Bani said. He said he couldn’t confirm reports Muammar Qaddafi is hiding in the western town of Ghadames near the border by Algeria under the protection of Tuareg tribesmen.

“We are working on the full and complete liberation of Libya, and to secure all the cities,” Bani said. “After that, we will do our best to look for this person. This does not worry us.”

NTC fighters have been trying to gain control of Sirte and Bani Walid since talks on their peaceful surrender broke down earlier this month.

Political infighting and the doggedness of Qaddafi’s supporters are hampering the drive by Libya’s interim leaders to complete the liberation of the North African nation and form a new cabinet. NTC officials said this week that a new government will only be unveiled when the entire country is liberated.

Saif Al Islam appeared on television on Sept. 27 trying to rally loyalists to continue their fight, in footage aired by Syria-based Arrai TV. The broadcaster said the video was dated to Sept. 20 and didn’t say where it was filmed.

Fighting in Sirte has been halted to allow civilians to flee and for ammunition to arrive. Bani said the city’s port, airport and military base are now under NTC control.

“North Sirte is free,” he said, adding that the south had been breached by NTC fighters.

--Editors: Karl Maier, Ben Holland

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Tuttle in Tripoli at rtuttle@bloomberg.net; Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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