- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi fired rockets at rebels on Thursday, hours after the ousted Libyan dictator denied he had fled to neighboring Niger.

Meanwhile, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” to arrest Col. Gadhafi on charges of crimes against humanity.

The Hague-based court in June issued arrest warrants for Col. Gadhafi; his son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam; and brother-in-law and intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi.

Red notices are issued to seek the temporary detention of a wanted person who would later be extradited based on an arrest warrant.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also sought red notices for Seif al-Islam and Mr. Senussi.

Rebels told The Washington Times that Mr. Senussi’s mother died of natural causes on Thursday, and they were hopeful they might apprehend him if he attends her funeral. He was last seen five days ago near Sabha, a southern city controlled by the regime.

A rocket attack near Bani Walid, 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, signaled a breakdown in negotiations between tribal chiefs loyal to the regime and the rebels who have surrounded the desert town. The rebels have given the loyalists until the end of the week to surrender.

A rebel fighter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the rebels were prepared for a bloody fight for Bani Walid.

“We know [the loyalists] are heavily armed. Gadhafi has concentrated his military in Bani Walid, but the people are with us,” he said.

Some rebels claim Seif al-Islam and Mutassim, another of Col. Gadhafi’s sons who served as national security adviser in the regime, are hiding in Bani Walid.

In Sabha, rebels said residents had risen up and taken control of the center of the city. Pro-Gadhafi forces have been pushed to the city’s outskirts.

In a message broadcast on Syrian-based Al Rai TV on Thursday, Col. Gadhafi derided the rebels as “germs, rats and scumbags.”

Col. Gadhafi has not been seen in public for many months. His second wife, Safiya; two sons, Mohammed and Hannibal; daughter Aisha and members of their families fled to Algeria late last month.

Another of Col. Gadhafi’s sons, Khamis, who headed the elite 32nd Brigade, which is thought to have committed war crimes, was killed in a NATO airstrike, according to rebels.

Col. Gadhafi said those who had ousted him were “a bunch of mercenaries, thugs and traitors.”

In his message, Col. Gadhafi vowed he would not leave Libya.

“Gadhafi won’t leave the land of his ancestors,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.

In a further consolidation of rebel control over Tripoli, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head the provisional National Transitional Council and a former justice minister in the Gadhafi regime, is expected to arrive in Tripoli over the weekend.

Mahmoud Jibril, acting prime minister, is already in Tripoli, where he said on Thursday that a new government can only be appointed once the entire country is under rebel control.

However, another rebel official said a transitional government should be established soon to avoid a power vacuum.

“We control 80 percent of the population, and nearly 90 percent of the territory. Establishing a government is something that is way overdue,” Mohamed Benrasali, a senior member of the stabilization team for Libya, told The Washington Times.

“It is only a matter of time before Bani Walid, Sabha and Sirte are under our control,” he added.

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