by Staff Writers
Shishan, Libya (AFP) Sept 5, 2011
Anti-Kadhafi fighters were playing a waiting game Monday after an official said negotiations for the surrender of the town of Bani Walid had failed and would not resume.
China meanwhile denied a Canadian press report that it had offered huge stockpiles of arms to the ousted strongman during the final months of his regime and held secret talks on shipping them through Algeria and South Africa.
"I am leaving the military commander to resolve the problem," Abdullah Kenshil, the chief negotiator for Libya's new government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), said late Sunday.
The town southeast of Tripoli is one of the last strongholds of pro-Kadhafi fighters where at least one of the ousted despot's sons is reported to be hiding.
In Misrata, the coastal town north of Bani Walid, a senior military official said Monday patrols had been sent out but there had been no fighting.
Kenshil said the supporters of toppled strongman Moamer Kadhafi inside the town had wanted to come out with their weapons on Sunday but were rebuffed.
"They demanded that the revolutionaries enter Bani Walid without their weapons," he added, charging that it was a pretext for an ambush.
Kenshil said Kadhafi himself, his sons and much of his family had been in Bani Walid, without specifying when. Some had left but two of Kadhafi's sons, Saadi and Mutassim, were still believed to be there.
Negotiations began several days ago through tribal intermediaries with the hope of taking Bani Walid without bloodshed.
Saadi Kadhafi said the talks' failure was the fault of his high-profile brother Seif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court along with their father for suspected crimes against humanity during the uprising.
Saadi told CNN in a telephone interview that an "aggressive" speech broadcast by his brother a few days ago had led to the breakdown of the negotiations.
Asked about his location, Saadi said he was "a little bit outside" of Bani Walid but had been moving around, CNN reported late on Sunday. He said he had not seen his father or brother for two months.
Saadi said he is "neutral" but remains "ready to help negotiate a ceasefire," CNN added.
Bani Walid is the heartland of the powerful Warfalla tribe, which made up the core of Kadhafi's army and was given top political positions within the regime.
But it has split over whether to back Kadhafi or not, said tribesmen who have sided with the NTC and are among the NTC forces besieging the town.
The anti-Kadhafi fighters had moved to within 15 to 20 kilometres (10 to 12 miles) of Bani Walid in readiness to launch an assault in the event that talks broke down.
They had set a deadline of 0800 GMT Sunday for the town's surrender, although the NTC last week announced an overall truce until September 10 in a bid to negotiate the surrender of the remaining strongholds of Kadhafi forces.
Those include a strip of Mediterranean coast around his hometown of Sirte and the southern oases of Sabha and Al-Jufra as well as Bani Walid.
NATO said on Monday that its aircraft had hit 13 targets in around Sirte, a command and control node near Sabha and six targets in Hun in the Al-Jufra oasis.
Beijing meanwhile denied reports by Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper that it had offered huge stockpiles of arms to Kadhafi during the final months of his regime in breach of UN sanctions.
The foreign ministry admitted that Libyan officials had visited China in July for talks with "interested companies" but insisted that no contracts had been signed or exports made.
"In July the Kadhafi government sent someone to China without the knowledge of the Chinese government to make contact with the representatives of interested companies," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told journalists.
"Chinese companies have not provided military products to Libya in any direct or indirect form. Chinese companies did not sign arm sales contracts and they did not export military products to Libya."
China "does not allow any actions that contravene UN resolutions," she added.
Citing secret documents it had obtained, The Globe and Mail reported that state-controlled Chinese arms companies were ready to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200 million to Kadhafi in late July.
It said the papers did not confirm whether any military assistance was actually delivered, but senior NTC members said they reinforced their suspicions about the recent actions of China, Algeria and South Africa, the report said
"It is very possible that these documents are authentic," NTC military spokesman Abdulrahman Busin told AFP, adding that legal advice is being sought as the matter is investigated further.
"We are examining all the evidence, we have a team of lawyers who are also examining the issue, and based on what they find they shall be taking it taking it from there," Busin said.
Meanwhile, a senior Libyan rebel commander on Monday demanded an apology from Britain and the United States after seized documents suggested both countries were complicit in a plan that led to his detention and torture.
Files unearthed from Kadhafi's intelligence archives documented the capture by the CIA of Abdelhakim Belhaj in Bangkok in 2004 and his forcible repatriation to Libya, where he had fought the old regime.
He was then jailed in Tripoli's notorious Abu Selim prison for seven years and maintains he was questioned by British intelligence officers during his captivity.
Belhaj, now military commander of Tripoli, told the BBC: "What happened to me was illegal and deserves an apology."
Britain's Guardian newspaper on Monday quoted him as saying he was considering suing both governments.
"I was injected with something, hung from a wall by my arms and legs and put in a container surrounded by ice," he said of his time in prison. "They did not let me sleep and there was noise all the time. I was regularly tortured.
"I'm surprised that the British got involved in what was a very painful period in my life," he added.
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Libya's NTC says capital's water supply assured
Benghazi, Libya (AFP) Sept 4, 2011
Libya's new leadership said Sunday its fighters had control of much of the Great Man-Made River that brings water from desert aquifers to the coastal cities, in good news for Tripoli. "We have received a report that our revolutionaries have taken over the man-made river system. Thanks to God and thanks to our valiant revolutionaries there will be no water problem in the next few days," milit ... read more
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