U.N. warns against assassinating Qadhafi

Insurgent leaders moved into Tripoli on Friday to begin a political transition, even as British warplanes bombed a bunker in Muammar Qadhafi's hometown of Sirte and rebel fighters grouped for another push on one of the last major regime holdouts east of Tripoli.

The African Union called for the political transition to be “inclusive”, while the U.N. human rights chief warned against assassinating Mr. Qadhafi, whose whereabouts are unknown and who has a $1.7-million rebel price on his head.

“At around midnight, a formation of Tornado GR4s... fired a salvo of Storm Shadow precision-guided missiles against a large headquarters bunker in Qadhafi's home town of Sirte,” the Defence Ministry said in London.

Speculation that Mr. Qadhafi might have found refuge in the town, which lies 360 kilometres east of Tripoli, has not been confirmed.

NATO said on Friday that its planes had hit 29 armed vehicles and a “command and control node” in the vicinity of Sirte.

On Thursday, the National Transitional Council (NTC) moved many of its top people from their Benghazi base, just days after rebel fighters overran Tripoli, going on to capture Mr. Qadhafi's headquarters and vast swathes of the capital.

Ali Tarhuni, a NTC official, said their leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, would arrive as soon as the security situation permitted. “I declare the beginning and assumption of the executive committee's work in Tripoli,” Mr. Tarhuni, the executive committee's vice-chairman and Minister of Oil and Economics, said.

“Long live democratic and constitutional Libya and glory to our martyrs,” he said, announcing the holders of key posts in a new provisional government. He called on forces loyal to Mr. Qadhafi to lay down their arms, and promised they would be treated lawfully.

“Put your weapons down and go home. We will not take revenge. Between us and between you is the law. I promise you will be safe.”

In Geneva, the U.N. human rights chief warned against bounty hunters who may be seeking to kill Mr. Qadhafi, saying assassinations are “not within the rule of law”.

“That applies to Qadhafi as well as everybody else,” said spokesman Rupert Colville in a response to a question about the reward for Mr. Qhadafi, dead or alive.

He also called on “all people in positions of authority, including field commanders in Libya, to take action to ensure that no crimes or acts of revenge are committed.”

In that vein, a senior African Union official said that with the conflict about to end, the body should support efforts for an inclusive transition in Libya.

“Now more than ever, we have to make efforts to ensure an inclusive and consensual transition to lead us to elections that will allow the Libyan people to freely choose their leaders,” A.U. Commission chief Jean Ping said at the start of a meeting in Addis Ababa.

Keywords: Libya uprising

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