- (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
Abdallah Naker, the head of the Tripoli Revolutionary Council, has announced that Mutassim Gaddafi, the son of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, was captured on Wednesday in the city of Sirte, Libya.
Libya’s new rulers continue to fight pro-Gaddafi loyalists in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, and Mutassim was reportedly captured following a four-hour firefight in the city when he was trying to escape the chaos in a car with an unnamed family.
National Transitional Council members confirmed to Reuters that Mutassim was captured in an uninjured but exhausted state.
NTC members also told the news agency that Gaddafi’s son would be taken to Benghazi, Libya, where he will be held for questioning at the Boatneh military camp.
It appears as though the NTC also now controls 80 percent of Sirte, one of the remaining pro-Gaddafi strongholds. If the capture of Mutassim proves to be true, analysts argue that it would be a major breakthrough for the NTC.
Anti-Gaddafi forces previously reported captures of Gaddafi family members that ultimately proved to be false.
During the major fighting between rebel forces and pro-Gaddafi loyalists, Mutassim kept out of the public eye, although he was reported to have been involved with efforts to put down the growing rebellion that eventually ousted his father.
Upon the announcement of the capture, crowds of people erupted in celebrations throughout the old city of Sirte waving Libya’s new flag and shouting, “God is greatest.” In Tripoli celebratory crowds gathered as fireworks lit up the sky.
A demonstrator told Reuters, “We got the little one, now we want the big one.”
The demonstrator was referring to the still nowhere-to-be-found Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi has vowed to never leave Libya but he has yet to be found by the new leaders of the country.
It is uncertain if Gaddafi is hiding in Libya or if he has taken refuge elsewhere. His wife, daughter and two of his sons escaped to Algeria in August. Another son, Saadi, took refuge in Niger.