After a four-decade-long rule and a six-month-old battle with rebel forces, Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s government appears to be crumbling. Tripoli is now almost completely under rebel control, and now the focus is on a manhunt for Gaddafi. The time is marked in EST. It is six hours ahead in Libya. Read the Post’s lead story here and follow other journalists’ tweets from Libya here.
Below, major events that occurred on Friday:
12:40 p.m. Rebel minister says Gaddafi, aides surrounded
A minister in the rebel Transitional National Council said rebel forces are now surrounding an area of Tripoli where Gaddafi and his aides are hiding.
“The area where he is now is under siege,” Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told Reuters. “The rebels are monitoring the area and they are dealing with it.”
Alag would not say where Gaddafi was, but said rebels were readying themselves to capture the fallen leader.
Other rebel officials have said they believe Gaddafi is hiding out in Abu Salim, a neighborhood rebels nearly took control of Friday.
Earlier this week, rebel forces said they had Gaddafi cornered. Those reports turned out to be untrue, “or at least premature,” Reuters reports.
11:00 a.m. The African Union will not recognize the Transitional National Council
While 20 African states have now formally recognized the rebel Transitional National Council as Libya’s legitimate government, the 54- member African Union will not do so as a whole, al-Jazeera reports.
South Africa is one of the African countries that has not recognized the NTC. Leader Jacob Zuma explains why:
If there is fighting, there is fighting. So we can’t stand here and say this is the legitimate [government] now. The process is fluid. That's part of what we inform countries — whether there is an authority to recognise.
Instead, the African Union said it would call for an inclusive transitional government that would involved officials from both the rebel council and Gaddafi’s side.
9:45 a.m. Gaddafi’s daughter’s death a hoax?
The adopted daughter of Gaddafi, whom he claimed was killed in the U.S. missile attack on his compound in 1986, could be alive and working as a doctor, the Irish Times reports.
While investigating the Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound, the Irish Times found a room that appears to belong to Hana, containing photographs, an examination paper from a Libyan medical university, and a certificate that shows Hana got an ‘A’ in an English language course.
Two weeks ago, the Telegraph had obtained dental records belonging to a ‘Hana Qadhafi,’ and reported that Abdel Salam Jalloud, Gaddafi’s former right-hand man, believed Hana was alive and working as a doctor.
Politico reasons that Gaddafi may have faked his daughter’s death because Gaddafi “scored a worldwide propaganda coup” when he claimed he “was the victim of American imperialist aggression.”
9:25 a.m. Fighting rages at Abu Salim
Rebel forces are now trying to clear the remaining pockets of resistance in the Abu Salim neighborhood, seen as one of Gaddafi’s last strongholds, al-Jazeera reports.
While it was reported earlier today that the rebels now controlled Abu Salim, al-Jazeera’s James Bay says the situation is still “volatile and fluid.”
The Telegraph has this raw footage from Abu Salim today:
Rebel supporter Trables Voice, who has been tweeting updates from near Gaddafi’s compound for the past several days, shared this map of the terrain where three different battles were taking place in front of apartments in Abu Salim:
8:25 a.m. Friday prayers
When the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began in Libya, The Post’s William Booth reported that the country barely paused to acknowledge it: “Ramadan began here at a lonely outpost on the front lines, as rebel forces broke their daylight fast with a handful of dates, a glass of milk and a couple of rocket launches.”
Nearly a month later, rebel supporters are taking time for prayer:
8:16 a.m. On the streets of Tripoli
The Post’s Simon Denyer is out walking around Tripoli and reports on Twitter:
7:40 a.m. Inside a Gaddafi bunker
The Post’s Thomas Erdbrink in Tripoli has gone underground inside an elaborate, secret bunker built by one of Gaddafi’s sons. He reports:
Forty feet underground, beneath a sprawling Gaddafi family mansion, lies a bunker that would have made a great place to hide. The entrance is hard to find: To get there, you go past the front door equipped with a fingerprint reader, through the garden and behind neatly trimmed shrubs, where there is a mysterious passageway. From there, it’s three flights of stairs down until you arrive at a one-foot-thick steel door. Behind the door, there’s a lair straight out of a James Bond film.
Watch as Erdbrink takes you through the bunker:
Read Erdbrink’s full report from the bunker here.
7:10 a.m. What happened overnight
— NATO is focusing its airstrikes on the region around Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, where loyalist forces still hold control, the AP reported. The NATO bombing appeared to be aimed at helping the rebel advance.
— After several days of fierce clashes, rebel forces took control of the Abu Salim neighborhood near Gaddafi’s compound, al-Jazeera reported.
— Mahmoud Jibril, the deputy chairman of the Transitional National Council, spoke at a press conference in Istanbul about his concerns for Libya, Reuters Africa reported. Jibril said his biggest concerns were security issues, the need to demilitarize quickly, questions of legitimacy, and financial stability. He pleaded with the U.S. and other countries to unfreeze billions of dollars to help create peace and stability in the nation.
— The United Nations Security Council approved an infusion of $1.5 billion of Gaddafi’s money seized by the U.S. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and other world leaders pledged to unfreeze another $500 million.
— Amnesty International said both loyalist and rebel forces have been abusing prisoners in Zawiya, west of Tripoli, according to accounts from survivors, CNN reported. The human rights group is urging both sides to not mistreat detainees. The group also found evidence that pro-Gaddafi guards have raped child detainees, and that Libyan rebels are abusing children and holding foreign mercenaries as prisoners.