31 Aug 2011

Deadline issued for surrender of pro-Gaddafi forces

9:17 pm on 31 August 2011

Interim leaders in Libyan have given pro-Gaddafi forces until Saturday to surrender.

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the ultimatum applied to loyalists of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte and in other towns.

The announcement was made after Colonel Gaddafi's wife and three of his adult children arrived Algeria on Monday.

The BBC reports that Colonel Gaddafi's whereabouts are unknown.

At a news conference in Benghazi, Mr Jalil said that if there was no ''peaceful indication'' by Saturday that Gaddafi-loyalists intended to surrender, ''we will decide this manner militarily''.

''We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait longer,'' he said.

NTC military chief Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, said: ''Zero hour is quickly approaching ... So far we have been given no indication of a peaceful surrender.''

Anti-Gaddafi forces made an attempt to reach Sirte last week but were fought back by loyalist troops.

On Monday, fighters coming from Benghazi in the east captured the small town of Nofilia, on the road to Sirte.

The BBC says the anti-Gaddafi forces have mainly been negotiating with tribal leaders in Sirte and the other two main remaining Gaddafi strongholds of Bani Walid and Sabha, deep in the Sahara desert.

NATO has intensified its bombing of Sirte.

The organisation says air strikes are targeting several command centres and military facilities in the city.

UN troops not wanted

The United Nations says Libya's interim leadership has rejected the idea of deploying any kind of international military force or observers.

Post-conflict planning special envoy Ian Martin says the UN does not expect the National Transitional Council to request military observers.

He says it's clear the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment by the UN or others.

Meanwhile, the United Nations sanctions committee has agreed to a request by Britain to release nearly $US2 billion worth of Libyan bank notes blocked there as part of a freeze of assets held by the Gaddafi government.

Foreign Secretary William Hague says the banknotes will help address urgent humanitarian needs, instil confidence in the banking sector and pay the salaries of key public sector workers.

A BBC correspondent in Tripoli says there were huge queues outside banks in the capital as people tried to get access to their accounts for the first time in days.

Daughter for Aisha

The Algerian government says Colonel Gaddafi's daughter Aisha, has given birth to a baby girl, a day after she and other family members were allowed to cross the border.

Algerian news reports say the pending birth was one reason why she, her mother and two brothers were given refuge.