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Rebels celebrate but Gaddafi still defiant

Libyan rebels sacked Muammar Gaddafi's Tripoli bastion, seizing weaponsand smashing symbols of a 42-year dictatorship whose demise willtransform Libya and send a warning to other Arab autocrats facingpopular uprisings.

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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