Rebel fighters overran Moammar Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, but the dictator himself has yet to surface — at least in person. NBC News reports on a radio address given by Qaddafi today to his supporters in Tripoli urging them to rise up and fight the rebels. The translation makes clear that Qaddafi wants a “cleansing” of the capital of any opposition to his regime:
Doesn’t sound like a man looking to surrender to the tender mercies of the International Criminal Court, does it? Despite the specter of a trial at The Hague, Qaddafi has no problem calling for massive bloodshed of men, women, and children in order to restore his crumbling regime.
Interestingly, it seems that Qaddafi might have been in the compound when rebels overran it. He claims to have withdrawn for “tactical” reasons, but as NBC reports, Qaddafi doesn’t make clear exactly when he left. But that leaves open the question of where he is now. Does he have access to another bunker, or did the rebel seizure of Bab al-Aziziya force Qaddafi to move in the open? If that’s the case, then Qaddafi is most likely looking for a way out of Tripoli to safety, and his call for a last stand in the capital might be another “tactical” decision to cover his escape. At this point, would anyone in Tripoli respond to that call?
Update: Sky News reports that journalists in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli are describing themselves as captives to the regime’s soldiers:
With electricity and water cut off and no staff left, the 30 or so journalists from around the world have grouped together, donning flak jackets and helmets as they listen to the sounds of gunfire outside.
When stray bullets struck the hotel as the rebels moved into the capital, some correspondents hung banners on their balconies, reading: “Television, press, don’t shoot.”
Fox News producer Tadek Markowski told Sky News the media felt they were being held “hostage”.
He said: “We are into day five of what is essentially a hostage situation.[“]
And Markowski adds this ominous note:
“We are speaking to colleagues who are with the rebels. We know they are very close and we get the sense that something is about to happen.
“We would love it to end in a whimper and not a bang, but we are moving with a sense of purpose now because we think the end is very close.”
Let’s keep these folks in our prayers, and remember that war correspondents put themselves in danger in order to get us the real story on the ground. Hopefully, this works out well in the end.
Update II: Mediaite reports that the regime’s soldiers have now allowed the journalists to leave the Rixos.