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Libyan govt contacts rebels

08-01-2011 09:17 BJT

BENGHAZI, Libya - The Libyan government said on Sunday it was in contact with members of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the rebels tried to quash rumors about the mysterious death of their army chief.

Libyan rebels fire an anti-aircraft gun at government forces during a heavy sandstorm near
the village of Tiji in western Libya, July 31, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

In Tripoli, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaaim said Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's government was in contact with members of the rebel NTC, but denied rumors of contacts with its top leader General Abdel Fatah Younes, who was killed on Thursday.

"There are contacts with Mahmud Jibril (number two in the NTC), and (Ali) Essawy (in charge of external relations), (religious leader Ali) Sallabi and others," Kaaim told a news conference.

On talk of recent contacts between the government and Younes, Kaaim said: "He was in contact with the government during his visit in Italy two months ago.

"Since then we had no contact with him despite (the fact that) we still have other contact with other members of NTC but not with Younes."

The rebels, who have frequently denied having any direct negotiations with the Gadhafi government, sought on Saturday to stamp out rumors by providing details on Younes' killing and tightening security in their Benghazi bastion.

NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Younes had been summoned from the front by a committee of four judges with the knowledge of the NTC's executive committee, the rebels' de facto government.

"The recall of General Fatah Younes from Ajdabiya was based on a warrant that was issued with the knowledge of the executive committee" of the NTC, he told reporters.

"I don't know why this arrest (warrant) was issued and we don't know who was present at the meeting when the decision was made ... or on what basis the decision was made."

On Thursday, Jalil said Younes, linchpin of Gadhafi's government before defecting to the rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader since February, had been killed by an armed group after being summoned to answer questions on military matters.

On Saturday, Jalil said Younes died after being shot in the chest and head.

Following the mysterious death of Younes, the information minister of Libya's rebel movement on Sunday said its forces had overrun the base of a rival faction after five hours of fighting.

Mahmoud Shamam said the clashes broke out around 3 am on Sunday and left four rebels dead and six wounded. The main rebel force was now in control of the al-Nidaa Brigade's base on the western outskirts of Benghazi, the de facto capital of Libya's rebel-held east.

NATO warplanes bombed three Libyan state TV satellite transmitters in Tripoli overnight.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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