Rebels celebrate but Gaddafi still defiant

Rebels and citizens celebrate in the newly named Martyr’s Square, formerly known as Green Square, after rebel forces overran Gaddafi’s fortified headquarters in Tripoli.

Libyan rebels sacked Muammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli bastion, seizing weapons and smashing symbols of a 42-year dictatorship whose demise will transform Libya and send a warning to other Arab autocrats facing popular uprisings.

Gaddafi said his withdrawal from his Bab al-Aziziya headquarters in the heart of the capital was a tactical move after it had been hit by 64 NATO air strikes and he vowed “martyrdom” or victory in his fight against the alliance.

As night fell yesterday after a day in which rebels overran Tripoli, meeting little resistance with few casualties, heavy fighting was reported in a southern desert city, Sabha, that rebels forecast would be Gaddafi loyalists’ last redoubt.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi were shelling the towns of Zuara and Ajelat west of Tripoli, Al-Arabiya television reported.

In Tripoli itself, Reuters correspondents said there still appeared to be some hostile fire around the city center as darkness descended and looting broke out.

Al-Arabiya quoted a witness as saying that loyalist forces had fired dozens of Grad missiles at the city.

The continued shooting suggested the six-month popular insurgency against Gaddafi had not completely triumphed yet.


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