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Council believes Gaddafi trapped south of Tripoli

The rebels in Tripoli are hoping to close in on Muammar Gaddafi 40 to 50 kilometres south of the capital where they believe he might be cornered soon.

The National Transitional Council security advisor Abdul Karim Bazama has told timesofmalta.com's team reporting from the rebel capital Benghazi, that fighters in Tripoli are chasing a convoy of trucks which is believed to include Col. Gaddafi and at least two of his sons.

Mr Bazama was not able to confirm if Saif al Islam, heir apparent of the dictator, was in the convoy.

"He is finished," Mr Bazama said confidently, insisting that the capture or killing of the dictator was only days away.

"He cannot move to the mountain, we are squeezing the only gateways he has left. He is being cornered. I don't think he can reach Sirte or Sabha anymore. He is manoevering in one area south of Tripoli and could be captured or killed anytime now... it's a matter of a few days," he said.

The 69-year old has proven at elusive target, having evaded capture, along with most of his family, for days after rebels marched on Tripoli in a spectacular takeover on Sunday.

In his latest defiant audio message, Col. Gaddafi called on loyalists, "Do not leave Tripoli to those rats, kill them, defeat them quickly. The enemy is delusional, Nato is retreating."

But as these words were being aired, Nato concentrated strikes on parts of Tripoli that have been targeted by loyalists.

British Tornado jets also fired cruise missiles overnight at a headquarters in the leader's home town of Sirte.

The NTC believes that the fighting is likely to stop once the dictator is captured or killed.

However, along with the hunt for the dictator, which is reportedly aided by French and British special troops, the council has also trying to negotiate a surrender of Sirte, to avoid a final blood bath.

"They (the people of Sirte and loyalists) are now in a critical situation, they are afraid. However, we keep trying and there is a negotiation going on at the moment at tribal level as well as with other tribes in the south," Mr Bazama said insisting that the council does not have a problem with Gaddafi's wider family or loyal tribes. "The only problem we have is with Gaddafi and his private family... the smaller family. The Gaddafa tribe is one of the good tribes in Libya and some of the people in these tribes were also affected negatively by the regime."

Mr Bazama insisted that it would be better for the people of Sirte and loyalists if they surrendered before the dictator's capture. "I hope these tribes will take the right decision. "From a moral point of view, it will be better for them because if he is caught or killed, it will be a big defeat for them so we wish they will take the right decision immediately."

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