Libya rebels claim Gadhafi foreign minister caught

September 1, 2011 - 5:50 AM
Mideast Libya

A boy, wearing a pre-Gadhafi flag, sits with at Tripoli's main square on the celebrations of the first day of Eid al-Fitr in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Muslims are celebrating the festival of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan rebels have captured Moammar Gadhafi's foreign minister, a rebel official said Thursday.

Ahmed Said, an adviser to the interior minister in the rebels' interim government, confirmed that the foreign minister had been captured but he did not identify him by name.

"We cannot give you details, but I can confirm that he is in custody," Said said.

A week ago, Gadhafi's Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi told British broadcaster Channel 4 that Gadhafi's 42-year rule was over.

After six months of civil war, rebels have seized control of most of Libya, including the capital Tripoli, effectively ending Gadhafi's rule. The longtime leader and his family, however had not been captured and rebels are hunting senior figures in the ousted regime. Rebels say they are hot on Gadhafi's trail.

Late Wednesday, two men claiming to be two different sons of Gadhafi made conflicting appeals from hiding, one calling for talks with rebel leaders and the other urging regime loyalists to fight to the death.

The dueling messages reflected the growing turmoil in Gadhafi's inner circle on the eve of the 42nd anniversary of his rise to power. The rebels are pooling tips about Gadhafi's whereabouts from captured regime fighters and others, and believe he is most likely no longer in Tripoli, said Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the rebels' military chief in the capital.

Rebel forces have been advancing toward three regime strongholds: Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the town of Bani Walid south of Misrata and Sabha, hundreds of miles south of the capital Tripoli.

There has been speculation that Gadhafi is hiding in one of those three towns.