In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Islamic extremists would “try to exploit” any weaknesses created as the country tried to rebuild after four decades of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.

Mr Rasmussen was speaking amid growing evidence of splits in the rebel leadership in Tripoli. His words will cast a damper over the euphoria sweeping Tripoli in the wake of the revolution…

Mr Rasmussen admitted things could “move very fast” if Gaddafi was removed. “I think that he still inspires resistance in some pockets of Gaddafi loyalists…

The bitter rivalry between the different rebel brigades, mostly structured along city or regional lines, also reflects the widening divisions across not just the military but political leadership of the new Libya.