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AP / The Hindu / TRIPOLI (LIBYA), August 23, 2011.
Muammar Qadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam speaks outside of the Rixos hotel in Tripoli. Photo: AP.
The son and heir apparent of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, Seif al-Islam, resurfaced free and defiant early Tuesday a day after rebels claimed to have captured him, boasting in a bizarre reappearance that his father’s loyalists still control parts of Tripoli and would crush the rebellion.
Mr. Seif al-Islam’s sudden - even surreal - arrival at a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying threw the situation in the capital into confusion. It underlined the potential for Mr. Qadhafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, to lash back even as his grip on power seemed to be slipping fast.
Rebels say they control the large majority of Tripoli, but on Monday they were still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, who was in Tripoli, said the “danger is still there” as long as the elder Qadhafi remains on the run. He warned that pro-Qadhafi brigades are positioned on Tripoli’s outskirts and could “be in the middle of the city in half an hour.”
The rebel leadership seemed stunned that Mr. Seif al-Islam was free. The leadership’s spokesman, Sadeq al-Kabir, had no explanation and could only say, “This could be all lies.”
He could not confirm whether Mr. Seif al-Islam escaped rebel custody, but he did say that another captured Qadhafi son, Mohammed, had escaped the home arrest that rebels had placed him in a day earlier. On Monday, the rebels had said Mr. Seif al-Islam was captured, but did not give details on where he was held. The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court - which indicted Mr. Seif al-Islam and his father - had confirmed his capture.
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