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Libya’s former Number 2 left for Italy via Tunisia, says official

Libya's former number two, Abdessalam Jalloud, left for Italy via Tunisia on Saturday, a senior Tunisian government official told AFP.

Mr. Jalloud, who was a former prime minister ostracized from Muammar Qaddafi's regime, had earlier been reported to have fled to rebel-held territory.

He took "a plane for Italy from Djerba airport at 3:40 am (0240 GMT)," an airport official on the resort island told AFP.

The government official said "Jalloud left Djerba airport for Italy at dawn on a Maltese plane with his family".

He could not say how many people boarded the flight.

Libya's state-run JANA news agency downplayed Mr. Jalloud's escape, saying he had remained out of politics for some time.

"Jalloud had remained away from politics out of his own free will, and spent most of his time abroad for (medical) care for heart disease," the agency said.

"There is nothing worth mentioning about Abdessalem Jalloud," it added.

Another source in Tunisia said Colonel Qaddafi’s former close aide arrived in the southern Tunisian town of Remada overnight Friday.

"He surrendered to the Tunisian army before he was taken care of by Qataris," the source said, adding that Italy may only be a stopover before Mr. Jalloud settles elsewhere.

Qatar is one of the few Arab countries that is an active partner in the international intervention against the Qaddafi regime. It also recognizes the rebels' National Transitional Council and is home to the Free Libya television station which it partly finances.

In the Italian capital foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari would not confirm or deny the report.

"We are verifying this information," he said.