Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Wednesday that his withdrawal from his Bab al-Aziziya headquarters was a “tactical move” after the compound was leveled by 64 NATO air strikes.
This is nearing “it’s just a flesh wound” territory.
Gadhafi appeared on local radio in Tripoli (it’s like Obama calling into a Morning Zoo show), inspiring his loyalists to fight and regain control of the capital. They’ve engaged in multiple running battles today, particularly near the airport, one of the last front lines in the country. NATO has continued its bombing attacks to pressure what remains of Gadhafi’s forces.
Meanwhile, there’s a burgeoning crisis happening at the Rixos Hotel, where most of the foreign press is holed up. The BBC’s Matthew Price reports:
This is day five now of what you might call the siege of the Rixos Hotel and it is a desperate situation for about 35 foreign nationals here including Britons, a US congressman and other Americans, and an Indian MP.
The situation deteriorated massively overnight when it became clear that we were unable to leave the hotel of our own free will. Gunmen were roaming around the corridors, some of them, it seemed, trained professional Gaddafi soldiers.
We believe there are still snipers on the roof of the hotel and effectively our movements are curtailed… There is a huge amount of apprehension and nervousness among the journalists stuck here in this hotel.
That’s actually former US congressman from DC, Walter Fauntroy. The pictures from inside the hotel are a little frightening. Food and water supplies are diminishing. It’s very possible that Gadhafi is hiding in the tunnels underneath the hotel, essentially using the international press as human shields.
There’s a donor conference going on in Doha that seeks to raise $2.5 billion in aid. But I’d worry about getting people out of that hotel first.