His spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, then called the Associated Press to say Gaddafi was safely in hiding in Libya and remains in command. Moussa said Gaddafi is capable of leading the resistance for “weeks, months and years.”
Meanwhile, the rebels’ civilian leaders appeared to be making progress in their campaign for the funds they desperately need to rebuild their country after six months of civil war.
In Tripoli, fighting was focused on the poor and traditionally loyalist neighborhood of Abu Salim, and in particular a cluster of apartment buildings not far from Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziya, which the rebels stormed earlier this week.
“The people who are in Abu Salim are fighting strongly,” said 26-year-old commander Ibrahim al-Madani. “We believe that Gaddafi or one of his sons are in Abu Salim.”
Reporters on the scene said rebels were using antiaircraft guns to hammer at least 10 buildings sheltering Gaddafi loyalists. There were huge explosions, and the air was clogged with smoke. At least three of the buildings were burning.
“They are holding at least 10 tall buildings. They have heavy weaponry, maybe even a tank,” Mohammed Karami, a rebel involved in the battle, told the Associated Press. Mahmoud Bakoush, a rebel commander at the site, said there were unconfirmed reports that one of Gaddafi’s sons might be in the buildings.
At one point, six trucks of rebels from the coastal city of Misurata arrived to take out the snipers in the apartment complex, but journalists on the scene said they instead got preoccupied with removing a gigantic poster of Gaddafi in a general’s uniform hanging on the side of a building nearby.
“We are here to deal with the snipers,” said their commander, Nouri Sherkisi. But instead, his men started filling gasoline bombs to throw at the poster. Just as they were getting ready to burn it, gunfire crackled from all directions, and the rebels fled in their vehicles.
Outside Bab al-Aziziya, about a dozen bullet-riddled bodies lay face down in the grass, some with their hands tied behind their backs. It was not immediately clear who they were, but a number of Gaddafi sympathizers had camped out in a tent city on the grass for months. According to an earlier Reuters report, more than 30 men believed to be fighters loyal to Gaddafi were found shot to death Thursday at a military encampment in a central Tripoli traffic circle in an area that had been held by loyalists.
According to the AP, five or six bodies were in a tent erected on the traffic roundabout. One of dead still had an IV tube in his arm, and another body was completely charred, its legs missing. The body of a doctor, in his green hospital gown, was found dumped in a canal.