Tripoli on alert on anniversary of Gaddafi coup | world | Hindustan Times
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Tripoli on alert on anniversary of Gaddafi coup

world Updated: Sep 01, 2011 16:50 IST

Rebels freshly installed in Libya's capital Tripoli braced for possible attacks from the remnants of Muammar Gaddafi's supporters on Thursday, the 42nd anniversary of his rise to power.

"We are ready, an attack is possible at any time against the rebels. We are not afraid," said Omar al-Hariri, a senior National Transitional Council defence official said.

In recent days the streets of the capital have been quiet except for the frequent rattles and cracks of celebratory gunfire.

But at the checkpoints that dot the city and on crowded squares where Libyans gather nightly there is still a sense of tension.

Tripoli fell into rebel hands just days ago and many -- including the de facto government -- remain worried that Gaddafi's boosters may yet seek to destabilise the country.

Most shops and businesses are shuttered to mark Eid -- the end of the holy month of Ramadan -- but fears about security have also led some to lock up and stay at home.

Those fears were amped up on Wednesday when Gaddafi's son Seif Al-Islam vowed that he and his father would fight on, declaring: "The resistance continues and victory is near."

"We are fine. The leadership is fine and the leader is fine," Seif al-Islam told Syria-based Arrai Oruba television -- the crumbling regime's mouthpiece -- in an audio message late Wednesday.

"We are happy. We are drinking coffee and tea with our companions and we are fighting. I am talking to you from a suburb of Tripoli. We want to reassure the Libyan people that we are still here."

That claim of continued fighting in Tripoli was dismissed by the rebels.

"The streets are quiet and there are no military movements by the rebels (in Tripoli)," Hariri said.

He said he had no knowledge of car bombs that had been reported found in the capital overnight.

"Seif al-Islam's threat last night has no meaning at all; we are controlling 75-90% of Libya and we still have to control Sirte and other small areas and we hope that people in these areas will respond positively to our calls to surrender," he added.