Libyan rebels announced they had gained control of much of Tripoli on Tuesday, but Muammar Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, the rebel government’s envoy to Washington said.
“Well, the latest news is, the TNC, they control Tripoli. And… the Gaddafi's forces, they are shrinking and they are now desperate,” Ali Suleiman Aujali, who represents Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) in the United States, told the PBS TV channel.
He said pro-Gaddafi’s forces still hold control of his compound in Tripoli, as well as “some hospitals and maybe hotels.”
The statement contradicts Tuesday’s media reports that the heavily guarded compound was captured by TNC supporters.
“And the situation completely under control, but we still are hunting for Gaddafi. We must find him and we must get him,” Aujali said.
The diplomat, who first represented Gaddafi's government in the U.S., said the Libyan leader is unlikely to surrender.
“He will continue to fight, I believe,” the envoy said. “And you never predict what he's going to do next... This is why we have to be ready for any action, for any surprises.”
Russian billionaire and president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, known for his close ties with the Gaddafi family, said he had held a phone conversation with Gaddafi’s son, Muhammad, on Tuesday.
"I got a phone call from Muhammad Gaddafi, who said that he and his father are alive and in a safe place in the capital,” Ilyumzhinov said, adding that he later had a brief conversation with Gaddafi himself, who said he had no plans to leave Tripoli.
Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday that Muhammad, whose detention and escape was reported on Monday, was again held in the Libyan capital.