Nato hunting for missing Gaddafi

Nato is helping Libyan rebels hunting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox said today.

Nato hunting for missing Gaddafi

Nato is helping Libyan rebels hunting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox said today.

He told Sky News: “I can confirm that Nato is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assets to the NTC (National Transitional Council) to help them track down Col Gaddafi and other remnants of the regime.”

Dr Fox refused to comment on a report that the SAS is leading the hunt for the dictator and his sons.

He spoke as it emerged that reward of over €1m is on the table for anyone able to capture him.

The offer of two million Libyan dinars came as French president Nicolas Sarkozy called a conference in Paris next Thursday to discuss plans to rebuild the country.

The “friends of Libya” meeting will include representatives from the nations which took part in the offensive against Gaddafi’s regime, as well as China, Russia, India and Brazil.

In a statement, Downing Street said the conference was a joint Franco-British initiative.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We have stood firmly by the Libyan people since their uprisings began six months ago and we will continue to lead international efforts to help them achieve their aspirations in the weeks and months ahead.”

Soldiers from the elite 22 SAS Regiment are reported to be helping rebel fighters track down 69-year-old Gaddafi after his heavily-fortified compound in Tripoli was seized following fierce clashes with loyalists.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the SAS soldiers, dressed in Arab civilian clothing and armed with the same weapons as the locals, have been hunting for Gaddafi on the ground in Libya on the orders of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sources told the newspaper the SAS had been operating in Libya for several weeks, but a Ministry of Defence spokesman said the department never commented on special forces operations.

Thirty-five foreign journalists held at Tripoli's Hotel Rixos have been released unharmed but soldiers loyal to Gaddafi still appeared to hold pockets of territory, kidnapping four Italian journalists and killing their driver as the group travelled towards the capital.

Two French journalists were also wounded in fighting around Gaddafi’s compound in the capital.

As well as supporting the reward for anyone capturing Gaddafi, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the NTC, offered amnesty to “members of (Gaddafi’s) close circle who kill him or capture him”.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was time the Libyan dictator recognised his brutal 42-year rule was over and order his forces to stand down.

Earlier, jubilant rebel fighters swept through the capital following the successful siege of the despot’s heavily-fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound.

After storming the luxury home, they raised the new Libyan flag over buildings and looted Gaddafi’s personal possessions, including his famous colonel’s hat - effectively ending the regime.

Some of Gaddafi’s closest allies in government appeared to be deserting him as Nicaragua apparently offered him asylum.

Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, Gaddafi’s former foreign minister, told Channel 4 News that the regime had come to an end. Speaking from Tripoli, he said the rebels were now responsible for restoring law and order to Libya.

But Gaddafi was still resisting arrest as he went on the run. He said it was a “tactical” move to flee his base in Tripoli, adding that he had gone on a discreet tour of the Libyan capital and did not feel in danger.

As rebel fighters searched the city, the dictator told residents in a poor-quality telephone address on local television that they must “cleanse” Tripoli of his regime’s enemies and free it from the “devils” who have overrun it.

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