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Libya takes aim at Gadhafi holdouts

Sept. 14, 2011 at 12:59 PM   |   Comments

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NIAMEY, Niger, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The interim Libyan government has given Gadhafi-loyalist holdouts two days to leave one of their last strongholds, officials said Wednesday.

The National Transitional Council sent more troops to Bani Walid as well as to Sirte and Sabha, the other towns where forces loyal to former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi have dug in, CNN reported. The 48-hour deadline for Bani Walid was issued late Tuesday, Abdulrahman Busin, a spokesman for the council, said.

A U.S. envoy arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday. Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with the former rebels since Gadhafi was ousted, said he was encouraged by his conversations with officials and representatives from non-government groups, CNN said.

"What an incredible accomplishment it is that we can meet and speak freely today," he said.

Saadi Gadhafi, one of the sons of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, has arrived in Niamey, the capital of Niger, officials there said Tuesday. After crossing the border from Libya during the weekend in convoys with others, Saadi Gadhafi was flown to Niamey on a military transport plane from the northern town of Agadez, the BBC reported.

Niger officials said he was granted refuge.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday he and others were apparently being detained under house arrest and that Nigerian authorities were working with the transitional government in Libya, the National Transitional Council.

Niger has recognized the transitional government's authority but says it hasn't decided whether to allow Moammar Gadhafi to enter the country, the BBC said.

Gadhafi loyalists seeking to escape Libya have crossed the desert into Niger with other potential routes eliminated as rebel forces largely control roads to Tunisia, Egypt, Chad and Sudan, the network said.

Algeria shut down its border after the ousted Libyan leader's wife, daughter and two of his sons crossed into the country in late August.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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