Mixed messages from 'Gaddafi sons'

Two men claiming to be Muammar Gaddafi’s sons have made conflicting appeals from hiding, one of them calling for talks with rebel leaders and the other urging the regime’s loyalists to fight to the death.

Two men claiming to be Muammar Gaddafi’s sons have made conflicting appeals from hiding, one of them calling for talks with rebel leaders and the other urging the regime’s loyalists to fight to the death.

In a telephone call to an Arab TV station, a man identifying himself as Seif al-Islam Gaddafi urged his father’s supporters to fight the rebels “day and night”.

He told the Syrian-based Al-Rai TV station that residents of Bani Walid agreed that “we are going to die on our land”.

He said Nato carried out several airstrikes in Bani Walid that killed people.

“All, move right now,” said Seif al-Islam, once considered the moderate face of the Gaddafi regime and the leader’s heir apparent. “Attack the rats,” he said, referring to the rebels.

He said he was calling from a suburb of Tripoli and that his father was “fine”.

The caller dismissed reports that another Gaddafi son, al-Saadi, was negotiating the terms of his surrender. Seif al-Islam said his brother was under pressure, in part out of concern for his family.

In a separate phone call to the Al-Arabiya TV station, a man identifying himself as al-Saadi said he was ready to negotiate with the rebels to stop the bloodshed. Rebel leaders have repeatedly said they won’t negotiate until Gaddafi is gone.

Al-Saadi said he spoke for his father and regime military commanders in calling for talks. He said that the rebels could lead Libya.

“We don’t mind. We are all Libyans,” he said. “We have no problem to give them power.”

The voice of Seif al-Islam – who was reportedly captured by the rebels earlier this month only to turn up free and defiant in Tripoli – was easily recognisable, but al-Saadi’s was more difficult to confirm.

“The regime is dying,” said rebel council spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga, reacting to the two statements. “Gaddafi’s family is trying to find an exit.

“They only have to surrender completely to the rebels and we will offer them a fair trial. We won’t hold negotiations with them over anything.”

Mr Ghoga said the rebels learned two days ago that Gaddafi and his sons were in Bani Walid, but now he does not know their whereabouts.

The conflicting messages came as 60 world leaders and top-level envoys meet in Paris to discuss Libya’s future. The gathering is likely to focus on unfreezing billions in Libyan funds held abroad and reconciling differences over how to deal with the new Libya.

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