The son and heir apparent of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam, resurfaced in Tripoli early Tuesday morning, despite claims by rebels a day earlier that they had arrested him.
Seif al-Islam walked freely to the Rixos Hotel, a luxury hotel in Tripoli controlled by Gaddafi, and taunted rebels, telling them his father's forces still control parts of the capital and will succeed at wiping out the rebellion, the Associated Press reports. Foreign journalists have been staying at the Rixos hotel, with reports early Monday that they had difficulty leaving.
"We have broken the backbone of the rebels," he confidently told the BBC, adding that by charging into Tripoli, the rebels had fallen into "a trap."
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The rebels had proudly announced the capture of Seif al-Islam, and the son's appearance at the Rixos underlined the level of uncertainty in Tripoli a day after the rebels triumphantly marched into the capital. On Monday, rebels claimed victory over the six-month civil war, and people held wild celebrations.
But Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, and Seif al-Islam's appearance served as a reminder that he could reappear and strike back, AP reports.
"While rebel leaders professed to be making progress in securing Tripoli and planning for a post-Gaddafi government, and international leaders hailed the beginnings of a new era in Libya, the immediate aftermath of the lightning invasion was a vacuum of power, with no cohesive rebel government in place and remnants of the Gaddafi government still in evidence," the New York Times reports.
The appearance of Seif al-Islam comes after his brother, Mohammad, who had also been under house arrest, reportedly escaped, Al Jazeera reported.
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Mohammad, who was arrested in his house during an interview with Al Jazeera, fled with the help of some loyalists, RIA Novosti reported. He is the eldest son and known for having vast wealth from owning Libya's cell phone and satellite companies, but he generally wasn't considered as vicious or political as his younger half brothers, including Seif al-Islam.
After his appearance at the hotel, Seif al-Islam went to his father's Bab al-Azizia compound and told journalists with him: "Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured."
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Fighting continued in pockets of Tripoli Monday between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces.
The head of the rebel National Transition Council Mustafa Abdel-Jalil told AP the rebels do not know where Gaddafi is or if he left Tripoli.
"The real moment of victory is when Gaddafi is captured," he said.