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An official of the revolutionary forces said on Wednesday that the fallen Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is hiding near the town of Ghadamis under the protection of one of his last and strongest support groups: the Tuareg tribe. The CNN reported that the interim military government had reliable information about Gaddafi’s hideout, but could not disclose how the military had acquired the information.
“Gaddafi is protected by the Tuareq tribe located between Niger, Algeria, and Ghadamis town in Libya,” said spokesperson Col. Abdul Basit. Tuareq fighters have been long-time supporters of the Gaddafi regime, “probably because he’s paying them,” said one source according to the Associated Press.
Ethnic Tuareq is a nomadic community that lives around the desert borders of Algeria, Chad, Libya, Mali and Niger. Tribesmen are known to be capable mercenaries, says CNN, and have played a vital part in the escape of loyalists of the Libyan dictator. Before the revolution, Gaddafi often cashed in on the support of the Tuareg as he rallied to manipulate unstable countries south of Libya.
While the military spokesperson seemed sure about the discovery of Gaddafi’s whereabouts, the National Transitional Council has before made false statements, according to CNN. Another report has suggested that Gaddafi was hiding in the southwestern desert town of Sabha but suspicion has intensified after a recent attack near Ghadamis.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Gaddafi family is scattered in known and unknown locations around the country and neighboring territory. Saif al-Islam is largely considered to be hiding in Bani Walis, 140 kilometers southeast of Tripoli alongside other regime members while another son, Mutassem, is thought to be in Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown.
CBSnews.com further reported that Gaddafi’s daughter Aisha and other relatives have been given refuge in Algeria. The International Criminal Court in The Hague still has arrest warrants out for the Libyan dictator, his son Salif as well as the former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi. Senussi was allegedly killed during clashes with rebels.
According to Examiner.com, Col. Gaddafi is wanted for crimes committed against humanity through “significant evidence showing Gaddafi ordered forces to attack civilian homes, shoot at demonstrators, disrupt funerals and order snipers to hit those coming out of mosques.” According to NATO, 200,000 Libyan nationals are still under threat from pro-Gaddafi forces.
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