Libya: three Gaddafis escape capture

Col. Muammar and sons Saif al-Islam and Mohammed are still at large, contrary to earlier reports.

Well, that was jumping the gun, to say the least... 

Earlier information that informal heir-apparent to the Libyan dictator, Saif al-Islam, had been captured in Tripoli by rebels has turned out to be erroneous.  The BBC 's Matthew Price, who is staying at the 5-star loyalist-defended Rixos hotel, said "he had spoken to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who said government supporters had broken the backbone of the rebels."

Saif al-Islam has alleged that his father is well and leading the fight-back.  Another of the dictator's sons, Mohammed, had been on the phone from home to Al Jazeera when he cut off as his house was surrounded and invaded.  There were reports that he had been placed under house arrest.  Well, not at all securely by the sound of things.  As he's now reported to be at large.

There was always likely to be a Gaddafi masterplan - the wily and devious Colonel wouldn't go down without a lot of noise.  The fierce battle raging for government barracks at Bab al-Azizia in western Tripoli where Gaddafi's compound is situated could be a decoy, who knows?

What's certain though is that the easy ride the rebels had into Tripoli only hours ago was a false dawn.  All those government supporters and troops didn't evaporate into thin air, as was always highly improbable.  They're returning to the fray.  

The euphoria and celebrations which greeted liberators as they entered Tripoli on Sunday will not be easily forgotten as rebel forces battle their way through districts still loyal to the Gaddafi regime.  It's taken them six months to get this far, and the hardest battle might turn out to be this one. 

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