Video: Manhunt for Gadhafi continues

  1. Closed captioning of: Manhunt for Gadhafi continues

    >>> this big storm has taken our attention away from some other news, so let's get into it, starting with the situation in libya. it's taken a new turn. they still have no idea where moammar gadhafi is. he's on the run tonight. we do know his wife and three of his children have fled to algeria. that's been confirmed by the algerians. it's the latest sign that gadhafi has lost total control of the rebels. there's news tonight about the libyan mastermind behind the bombing of pan am 103 . and our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has the latest from tripoli .

    >> reporter: tripoli is slowly recovering, stores opening, traffic moving. hospitals have power again. but one notorious patient has now left the hospital, abdelbaset al megrahi released by scotland two years ago. he is now home in tripoli , without adequate medical care , his brother says, slipping in and out of a coma. there's new evidence of gadhafi 's brutality against his own people. 25-year-old amir aoon clings to life. he was one of gadhafi 's prisoners, shot by guards as rebels advanced. they tried to slit his throat but the knife was too dull. he was one of 200 prisoners marched out of his cell last thursday and shot by gadhafi loyalists. i think there were three of them, and they were shooting constantly. he was left for dead , he said, and at least 40 others were executed. nearby, rebels uncover a huge weapons cache. gadhafi 's stockpiled weapons across the city, preparing for a drawn out battle in tripoli . this was a private farmhouse, it's filled with thousands of cases of ammunition. and gadhafi himself still at large is now a figure of ridicule here. pictured as a rat and in a toilet. at a checkpoint rebels search using a photograph of how gadhafi might look dressed as a woman. the portrait of a man who sheltered terrorists and executed prisoners, now sits in a trash heap by the roadside.

NBC, and news services
updated 8/29/2011 5:35:31 PM ET 2011-08-29T21:35:31

Members of  Moammar Gadhafi's family have entered Algeria, Algeria's state news agency said Monday, but the whereabouts of the ousted Libyan leader were unknown. Libyan rebels claimed to have killed one of his sons.

The report by APS news agency cited Algeria's Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying Gadhafi's wife Safia, his sons Mohammed and Hannibal, and his daughter Aisha entered the neighboring country on Monday. It did not immediately provide additional details or say whether Gadhafi himself was with the family.

The Egyptian news agency MENA, quoting unidentified rebel fighters, had reported from Tripoli over the weekend that six armored Mercedes sedans, possibly carrying Gadhafi's sons or other top regime figures, had crossed the border at the southwestern Libyan town of Ghadamis into Algeria. Algeria's Foreign Ministry had denied that report.

Libya's de facto government said it considers Algeria's apparent sheltering of members of Gadhafi's family an act of aggression and will seek their extradition.

"We have promised to provide a just trial to all those criminals and therefore we consider this an act of aggression,'' Mahmoud Shamman, a National Transitional Council spokesman, told Reuters.

"We are warning anybody not to shelter Gadhafi and his sons. We are going after them in any place to find them and arrest them,'' he said.

Image: A combo of file pictures of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's family
AFP - Getty Images
From left, Moammar Gadhafi's wife Safia, his sons Hannibal and Mohammed and his daughter Aisha, in Libya between 2004 and 2010.

Libyan rebels have accused Algeria of supporting the ousted regime.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels commanders said another of Gadhafi's son, Khamis Gadhafi, was killed in an airstrike about 60 km (37 miles) south of Tripoli, Britain's Sky News reported.

Khamis was said to have been in an armored four-wheel-drive vehicle that was struck by a missile apparently fired from a NATO Apache helicopter, Sky News said.

Sky News' chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who was at the scene, said a man claiming to be Khamis' bodyguard confirmed that Khamis had died in the vehicle.

Col. Al-Mahdi Al-Haragi, in charge of the Tripoli Brigade of the rebel army, said he had confirmation that Khamis was badly wounded in the clash near Ben Walid and Tarhoni. He was taken to a hospital but died of his wounds and was buried in the area, Al-Haragi said, without giving the timing.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the U.S. could not yet independently confirm Khamis' death but said similar information was being received in Washington from "reliable sources."

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Earlier on Monday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court told Reuters he may apply for an arrest warrant for Khamis.

Human Rights Watch said members of the Khamis Brigade, a force commanded by him, appeared to have carried out summary executions of detainees whose bodies were found in a warehouse in Tripoli.

The Hague-based ICC has already approved warrants for the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi on charges of crimes against humanity.

The developments came as rebel forces were converging on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, hoping to deliver the coup de grace of their revolution.

The fugitive Gadhafi's whereabouts were still not known and it was possible he was still in hiding in Tripoli after it fell to rebel forces and his 42-year-old reign collapsed.

The U.S. has seen no indication that Gadhafi has left Libya, the White House said on Monday.

"If we knew where he was, we would pass that on to the opposition forces,'' White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Video: Manhunt for Gadhafi continues (on this page)

There was some fighting Monday on the eastern and western approaches to Sirte. Some have speculated that Gadhafi and other senior regime figures may have fled there.

A NATO officer, who asked not to be identified because of alliance rules, said there was fighting 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Sirte. He said there are still clashes around Sirte, Bani Walid south of Misrata and Sebha further south.

Taking Sirte will mean getting past entrances that are reportedly mined and an elite military unit. Gadhafi's tribe is the most powerful in the city. Libyans familiar with the coastal city on which Gadhafi has lavished building projects say its first line of defense is a heavily fortified area called the al-Wadi al-Ahmar, 55 miles (90 kilometers) to the east.

The rebels asked NATO Monday to keep up pressure on remnants of Gadhafi's regime.

"Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO," Abdul-Jalil said in Qatar. NATO has been bombing Gadhafi's forces since March under a United Nations mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

In other developments, the chairman of the African Union on Monday accused Libyan rebels of indiscriminately killing black people because they have confused innocent migrant workers with Gadhafi's mercenaries. Jean Ping, speaking to reporters in Ethiopia, added this is one of the reasons the AU is refusing to recognize the National Transitional Council as Libya's interim government.

Ping's charges are much stronger than any that have been levied at the rebels by international rights groups. The groups have, however, expressed concern about beatings and detentions of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Gadhafi had recruited fighters from further south on the continent, but many sub-Saharan Africans are in the country as laborers.

National Transitional Council spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga denied the AU claims.

"These allegations have been made during the early days of the revolution. This never took place."

Slideshow: Conflict in Libya (on this page)

African leaders' skepticism about the rebels has led to questions about those who received money and arms from Gadhafi in past decades were now repaying him with support. African leaders have insisted they simply do not support regime change by force.

Survivors and human rights groups have said Gadhafi loyalists retreating from Tripoli after decades of brutal rule killed scores of detainees and arbitrarily shot civilians over the past week.

Council spokesman Ghoga said his representatives have collected names in cities rebels have liberated, resulting in a list of some 50,000 people rounded up by the Gadhafi regime since the uprising began six months ago. He said rebels freed 10,000 from prisons, leaving at least 40,000 unaccounted for.

In the capital, members of the National Transitional Council announced further steps to becoming an effective government. Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi, the rebels' deputy military chief, announced the formation of a 17-member committee to represent the 30 or local military councils he said had been set up in the country's west.

The war was fought by disparate, local groups with only loose coordination. Bringing all local councils and rebel brigades under the council's leadership remains a challenge.

Video: Tripoli residents face grim task of burying the dead (on this page)

France said Monday it was dispatching a team of diplomats to reopen the French embassy there and see how France can aid the city. The European Union also was seizing a foothold in Tripoli. Kristalina Georgieva, European commissioner for international aid, said Monday the EU has opened a humanitarian office to help distribute medical and other emergency aid in the Libyan capital.

Meanwhile, the stench of rotting bodies and burning garbage hung over the capital Tripoli, where food, water and other supplies were running short.

NBC News' Stephanie Gosk in Tripoli described how the city was struggling to cope with the growing number of corpses.

"There are so many unclaimed bodies in the hospitals and morgues that it has gotten to point where they are just burying them," she said.

At a public cemetery visited by a NBC News team, a crew of about 15 men were burying the bodies. Each was photographed and checked for identification before being buried, Gosk reported.

Many corpses have been found, some of slain Gadhafi soldiers, others the victims of killings in cold blood.

Rebel military spokesman Col. Ahmed Bani said there was concern for the fate of 40,000 prisoners who he said had been detained by Gadhafi's forces and who were still unaccounted for. It was possible some were being held in underground bunkers in Tripoli that rebels had been unable to locate.

Sarah Leah Whitson, of Human Rights Watch, said: "The evidence we have been able to gather so far strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling."

Reuters, NBC News' Stephanie Gosk and staff contributed to this report.

Photos: Daily life in Libya's rebellion

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  1. A rebel stands on the infamous "Hand of Gadhafi" monument in the Bab Al-Azizya compound a day after numerous rebel brigades defeated Gadhafi loyalists for control of the massive military and government center, on Aug. 25, in Tripoli, Libya.

    Photojournalist Benjamin Lowy describes the scene: After breakfast our driver showed up in his white PT Cruiser and five journalists including me stuffed ourselves in. Drivers and translators are difficult to come by, so we all pooled resources and used one car.

    The first stop of the day was Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziyia compound - home to the infamous "hand crushing the plane" statue. It seems like every day some of the thousands of rebels pouring into Tripoli take their turn to pose with it and spray unrelenting celebratory gunfire in the air. The rebels have been doing that for months - shooting in the air and yelling "Allah-O-Akbar." They don't seem to understand firing discipline or the fact that what comes up, must come down. I would love to see some figures, in later years, of how many civilians and rebels were killed, not by Gadhafi, but by themselves, and in happiness. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Libyan rebels cringe as their position comes under fire from Gadhafi loyalist forces in the Buslim neighborhood. (Editor's note: These images were taken with a smart phone using an app that applies filters to the photography)

    Photographer's view: Our little crew decided to make our way through the southern gate of the compound and came across a massing of rebels trying to clear the Buslim neighborhood - an area known to be pro-Gadhafi. In fact, green flags still flew on most buildings and most of the buildings were painted white and green.

    Several gun battles ensued over the course of the morning as we pushed forward and fled with the rebel who were taking sniper fire, returning it. Eventually we walked back to our starting point at the roundabout at the southern gate of the Gadhafi compound. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
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    The bodies of four recently killed pro-Gadhafi loyalists lie in an abandoned medical encampment near the south entrance of the Bab al-Aziziya compound Aug. 25, in Tripoli, Libya.

    Photographer's view: It was here that we came across dozens of bodies - at least 30 - of Gadhafi loyalist soldiers. But they weren't killed in the heat of battle. Nineteen of the bodies were in a makeshift combat hospital, the others were laid out on a grassy traffic island.

    On closer inspection though, we could see that these soldiers hands were zip-tied, basically handcuffed. Their bodies were riddled with bullets. It begs the question - are the rebels now the ones committing war crimes? Did they arrest and then execute these men? Is this retribution? Probably. Is it racism, since most of these bodies were black Africans, and the rebels - North Africans and brown- skinned - think that they are all mercenaries. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Rebel forces run for cover after coming under small arms fire while clearing the dangerous and pro-Gadhafi Abu Salim neighborhood.

    Photographer's view: A rumor began to circulate on the wires that the rebels had surrounded a building where Gadhafi and his sons were holding up. We felt forced to investigate. Even though it was unlikely, it's not a picture or story to miss.

    We all jumped on the back of a rebel vehicle - essentially embedding ourselves. We didn't want to risk the life of our driver, especially since his beloved PT Cruiser took one for the team and had the windshield shattered and the chassis dented by an erratically driven rebel technical. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A Libyan fires his weapon at a building housing a Gadhafi loyalist sniper in the dangerous Abu Salim neighborhood on Aug. 25, in Tripoli, Libya.

    Photographer's view: The rebels, and our own two feet, eventually took us to the Abu Salim neighborhood. It is possibly the last holdout of diehard Gadhafi forces.

    It was brutal. For four hours the streets of this gated apartment complex were lit up with seemingly every type of ammunition. Small arms fire from pistols and AK-47s whittled away at building facades. Machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, RPGs and mortars were used to rout out suspected snipers. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Suspected Gadhafi loyalist soldiers are pulled from apartments and lined up against a wall in the Abu Salim neighborhood by rebel forces on August 25 in Tripoli, Libya.

    Photographer's view: Prisoners were taken. Most seem to be black Africans, and a few Libyans. I was scared, as I watched the rebels violently arrest these men and throw them in the back of a pickup truck, that as soon as they were out of our view, they would be executed.

    Incoming sniper fire from a nearby building forced us to take cover. The untrained rebels released what I call the "death blossom" of firing in 360 degrees at pretty much everything. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Walid Barui, 25, breaks his Ramadan fast with a cup of water as a building burns behind him in the still violent neighborhood of Abu Salim. Baruni took up his gun and joined the revolution weeks ago, initially reluctant since he takes care of his elderly parents. He trained in the Nalut Mountains and was part of the rebel advance that swept into Tripoli. He said his parents "couldn't be prouder" with his choice to join the rebellion. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A Libyan rebel helps wheel out the body of his deceased comrade from a hospital morgue. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A Libyan rebel rips a poster of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi from the lobby of an apartment block.

    Photographer's view: Will finding Gadhafi stop this violence? Will people dance in the streets, will shops open again? More than likely yes. But now pretty much every male in Tripoli - even teens - have some sort of firearm. There will be divisions in the rebel camp, in the National Transitional Council, as they try to shape a new country. And right now, divisions are settled by war. (Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for Back to slideshow navigation
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  2. Editor's note:
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  1. Image:
    Benjamin Lowy / Reportage by Getty Images for
    Above: Slideshow (9) Daily life in Libya’s rebellion
  2. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
    Slideshow (81) Conflict in Libya
    AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (34) Moammar Gadhafi through the years


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