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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Libyan rebels offer $1.5 mln reward for Gaddafi, dead or alive

RIA Novosti

19:09 24/08/2011 MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - Libyan rebels on Wednesday offered amnesty, as well as a $1.3-million reward for anyone who captures or kills Muammar Gaddafi, the Transitional National Council head said, according to international media reports.

Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said a Benghazi businessman had offered a reward of two million Libyan dinars ($1.5 million) for Gaddafi's capture.

Gaddafi has lost control of most of the capital, Tripoli, as well as his residence, but pledged on Wednesday to fight to the end.

He has vowed to fight on "until victory or martyrdom" and called on his loyalists to free the country of "devils and traitors."

On Tuesday, rebels stormed Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli but found no sign of him.

The 69-year-old Libyan leader said he had left the compound as a "tactical move," while his spokesman Moussa Ibrahim promised to "take Tripoli back."

Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown but according to some reports, Nicaragua might give him asylum.

WMD concerns

There is deep concern in the West over the future of Libya's massive chemical weapons stocks, especially its mustard gas caches, and that they could fall into the wrong hands.

Most of Libya's chemical weapons are held at a facility located in Rabta, south of Tripoli.

Western analysts believe that the country's weapons of mass destruction arsenal alone contains some 10 tons of various chemical agents which can inflict grave damage.

Gaddafi is also believed to be in possession of Scud-B missiles, over 1,000 tons of uranium powder and massive quantities of conventional weapons.

The United States, France and Britain have asked Libya's neighbors to beef up security on their borders to prevent the possible smuggling out of weapons.

The West is afraid that in the chaos of Gaddafi's downfall the leftovers of his military capabilities could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda or other militant groups.

The leaders of Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Chad and Niger received letters in which Western leaders requested that measures be taken to prevent such groups from obtaining the weapons.

The West also warned the countries adjacent to Libya against giving refuge or transit passage to the members of the toppled regime.

Reporters trapped

Gaddafi loyalists are keeping 35 foreign journalists inside a hotel in downtown Tripoli, Al Arabiya television said on Wednesday.

The reporters have not been allowed to leave the Rixos Hotel since late Tuesday as the fighting for control of the capital between Gaddafi soldiers and rebels intensified.

Rebels claimed on Wednesday they were trying to release the reporters, who had been issued passes by the International Organization for Migration for a possible departure from the Libyan capital by sea.

However, a direct assault on the hotel guarded by a handful of soldiers wearing civilian clothes and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenade launchers could put the lives of the reporters in serious danger.

Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday Moscow would recognize Libya's Transitional National Council (TNC) as the North African state's legitimate government if it brings the war-torn country together.

"If the rebels have the power and spirit and opportunity to unite the country on a new democratic basis, then of course we will consider establishing relations with them," Medvedev told reporters after talks with North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-il, in eastern Siberia.

"Basically, there are two governing powers in the country, and despite the rebels' success in Tripoli, Gaddafi and his loyalists retain influence and military potential."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday called on Libya's National Transitional Council and opposition forces to ensure the protection of all foreign nationals during the final days of the Gaddafi regime and transition period.



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