News / Africa

Gadhafi Calls Libya Situation a 'Charade'

A new audio message from former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says what is happening in Libya is a "charade" aided by NATO airstrikes, which will not last forever.

The message was broadcast Tuesday on Syria's Al-Rai television.  The station has carried several messages from Gadhafi, who has not been seen since provisional authority forces seized the capital, Tripoli, last month.  

Meanwhile, Libya's interim government says its forces have captured the airport and other locations in the southern desert city of Sabha, one of Gadhafi's last remaining strongholds.

A military spokesman for the National Transitional Council, Colonel Ahmed Bani, said Monday that NTC flags are flying over the airport, an old Italian fort and other strategic buildings inside Sabha.

The city, 650 kilometers south of Tripoli, controls the main trail to neighboring Niger - an escape route used by members of  Gadhafi's entourage.

Any advance on Sabha would be an important boost for Libya's revolutionary forces. NTC fighters are struggling to oust pro-Gadhafi loyalists from the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte, and to contain disunity within their ranks.

Meanwhile a human rights group says European countries are not doing enough to help resettle thousands of refugees living on Libya's borders in Tunisia and Egypt.

London-based Amnesty International estimates 5,000 refugees - mainly Africans - cannot go back to Libya and face possible persecution if they return to their home countries.  The group says the European response has been "abysmal," with eight nations so far offering to take in fewer than 700 refugees.

In New York, the United Nations said it has chosen British diplomat and rights activist Ian Martin to head its new mission in Libya.

Martin is a former secretary general of Amnesty International and a former U.N. special envoy in Nepal. He is expected to lead up to 200 U.N. staff with an initial three-month mandate to help with a range of tasks from electoral assistance to police training.

Earlier Monday, pro-Gadhafi forces repelled NTC fighters with heavy gunfire near the northern entrance to heavily fortified Bani Walid.

Volunteer fighters fled in chaos from the city Sunday when loyalist troops attacked their positions with mortars and sniper fire. Regular, trained provisional authority troops had pulled away from Bani Walid after failing to take the town.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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