Saturday, October 15, 2011

Libyan forces search Tripoli for Gadhafi loyalists

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – Libyan fighters fanned out in Tripoli neighborhoods Saturday to search for armed supporters of fugitive leader Moammar Gadhafi a day after a major gunbattle rocked the capital for the first time in two months.

Dozens of men combed apartment buildings for suspects and weapons in the Abu Salim neighborhood, which is home to the prison of the same name that became notorious for the abuse and killing of Gadhafi opponents. A day earlier, a gunbattle broke out in the area when a group tried to raise the green flag that symbolizes the ousted regime.

Revealing serious divisions within the revolutionary ranks, Saturday's sweep of Abu Salim was mainly being conducted by a breakaway militia that refuses to answer to the main Tripoli military council.

It is one of many factions that have refused to put themselves under the umbrella of official revolutionary authorities, raising fears of vigilante justice as the North African nation faces continued fighting by loyalists of the fugitive leader.

One anti-Gadhafi fighter stomped a green flag as others searched vehicles. Another showed off a box found stuffed with bullets he said was found in a second-floor apartment in one of the residential buildings.

Abdullah Naker, the head of the so-called revolutionary council, called on all anti-Gadhafi forces to join them in the search and warned his men will fight anybody who gets in their way.

"All of Tripoli will be searched and we will reorganize our checkpoints and our guards in public and private institutions inside of Tripoli and outside of Tripoli," he told reporters.

He said eight wanted men and 12 other suspects had been arrested. He also alleged that teachers have been telling students that Gadhafi will return and said teams had been sent to stop the practice.

"We gave the military council a chance to prove themselves and they failed and we will not leave things to chance," he said.


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