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Capture of Gaddafi son, end of Sirte battles in doubt

TRIPOLI, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Contradicting reports appeared Thursday concerning the capture of one of the sons of fallen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, while the end of the Sirte battles looks still out of reach.

The capture of Mutassim, Gaddafi`s fourth son in Sirte, a remaining Gaddafi redoubt, was informed to Xinhua on Wednesday night by Mohamed Taynaz, a senior defense official of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), whose post equals to a " deputy defense minister."

But doubts over the capture fermented on Thursday after NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil`s failure to confirm, as well as the dismissal of some field commanders who attended a meeting in Benghazi, Libya`s second largest city and the cradle of anti- Gaddafi protests that started in February.

A source close to the NTC media center told Xinhua on Thursday that about 200 captured pro-Gaddafi soldiers, who were in extremely heavy guard, arrived in Benghazi from Sirte the previous day, which might have linked people with the arrest of some key pro-Gaddafi figures, including Mutassim who was believed to have been holed up in the Gaddafi hometown.

However, what followed were reports on local Arabic TV channel on late Thursday saying that a NTC advisor had been able to confirm the arrest of Mutassim, 34, and previously a national security advisor under his father`s rule.

As confusion looms large on the whereabouts of Gaddafi`s son, uncertainties also emerge on the end date of the weeks-old fighting in Sirte.

As NTC officials repeated their promise of terminating the Sirte battles in a timely manner, their fighters were reportedly retreating on Thursday to a police headquarters they had previously controlled in the downtown, following resistance from pockets of Gaddafi loyalists scattered in the town.

While NTC Chairman Jalil said on Tuesday that the ruling authorities would need two more days to fully control Sirte, fighters from Misrata, who had fought in the front line in neighboring Sirte, told Xinhua that one more week might be a more realistic estimate.

Date:2011-10-14 8:45:14     
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