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Libyan Rebels Issue Saturday Deadline for Gadhafi Loyalists to Surrender

Rebel fighters chat as they patrol the road between Misrata and Sirte on Tuesday. Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

As Libyan rebels moved toward Moammar Gadhafi’s bastion of Sirte, where attempts at a negotiated end to fighting have thus far failed, the leader of the National Transitional Council said Gadhafi’s troops have until Saturday to surrender before it would “decide this manner militarily.” Mustafa Abdul Jalil said their preference was to settle the matter in negotiations but that time was running out.

On Monday, members of Gadhafi’s family, including his wife and three of his children, fled into neighboring Algeria. The rebels demanded that they return to Libya to face trial, flaring tensions with the Algerian government, which the rebels believe provided Gadhafi with fighters during the months of battle against the regime.

The whereabouts of Gadhafi remained unknown. The three children who escaped, including his infamous son Hannibal, were all banned from travel through a United Nations resolution in February.

NATO planes continued to assist rebel forces in their advance toward Sirte, more than a week after they took effective control of the capital, Tripoli. NATO said it struck a series of assets on Monday to help pave the way for the rebels’ advance.

As the military battle drags on, more humanitarian horrors have surfaced in Libya, including the discovery of 50 burned bodies in a warehouse in Tripoli. A local witness described a massacre in which hundreds of prisoners were shot by government guards. Some prisoners were found executed; those who escape have told stories of torture.

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