The head of Libya’s rebel council on Thursday urged people in parts of the country still under Muammar Qaddafi’s control to “join the revolution” and said he welcomed talks with groups in those areas to avoid more killing as hundreds of rebel fighters launched an attack on a Tripoli hideout of forces and snipers loyal to Qaddafi.
“I call on our people in the areas that have not been liberated ... to join the revolution,” Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a press conference in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to Reuters.
“We welcome any negotiations from any community or area, whether directly or indirectly, to avoid more killings,” Abdel Jalil said. “Libya is big enough for all, and all Libyans will be treated equally. The (national) wealth is for Libyans and will be distributed equally on Libyan soil.”
He said that more than 20,000 people have been killed in the six-month rebellion to oust Qaddafi.
“I do not have the exact figure, but the armed conflict has resulted in more than 20,000 dead,” said Abdel Jalil, according to AFP.
Asked about the possible presence of chemical weapons in the country, he said there was nothing to fear.
“As a former member of the (Qaddafi) regime, I know very well that those weapons have expired,” he said.
Hundreds of Libyan rebel fighters, meanwhile, launched an attack on a Tripoli hideout of forces and snipers loyal to Qaddafi, an AFP TV reporter said.
More than 300 rebels armed with Kalashnikov, rocket launchers and assault rifles streamed into the Abu Salim district where they traded fire with loyalists and launched a house-to-house search.
“Today we are freeing Abu Salim,” and “Today we will conquer Abu Salim,” rebels yelled as they headed into battle.
Rebels said they arrested two pro-Qaddafi fighters, accusing one of them of being a sniper because he was wearing a flak-jacket and his car was stocked full of bullets.
One rebel tore down one of the many green flags raised in support of the regime in the low-income district renowned for its political prison.
Meanwhile, more than 30 men believed to be fighters loyal to Qaddafi, meanwhile, have been killed at a military encampment in central Tripoli and at least two were bound with plastic handcuffs, indicating they had been executed, Reuters reported.
Some of the dead wore military uniforms while others wore civilian clothes. Some were African men. Qaddafi is known to have recruited soldiers from neighboring countries.
Elsewhere in the city, a British medical worker said a hospital had received the bodies of 17 civilians believed to have been executed in recent days by government forces.
“Yesterday a truck arrived at the hospital with 17 dead bodies,” Kirsty Campbell of the International Medical Corps told Reuters at Mitiga hospital.
“These guys were rounded up 10 days ago. They were found in Bab al-Aziziya when the guys (rebel fighters) went in. These guys were shot in an execution there,” she said.
The wounds were not battlefield injuries, she said.
Rebel fighters overran the fortified Bab al-Aziziya complex, the center of Gaddafi’s power, on Tuesday.
She said there had been reports of more bodies, but added: “I myself counted 17 last night.”
Campbell said family members had identified the victims.
Doctors showed Reuters 15 dead bodies in the yard behind the Mitiga hospital. They were riddled with bullets, and were bloated, indicated they had been left in the heat for some time.
One of the doctors at the hospital, Hizar Ali, said the prison guards had thrown an explosive device into the prison cell before opening fire, but the survivor who spoke to Reuters did not confirm this.