Colonel Gaddafi still poses a threat to Libya, the National Transitional Council has warned, as a Tripoli resident revealed many citizens are still scared of the dictator even in the wake of rebels taking control of the city.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the NTC, said there was still a risk of counter-attack in Libya and beyond as he held a meeting with Nato envoys in Doha, Qatar on Monday.
His warning came as 25-year-old Tripoli resident, Zuhair Abu Srewil, told the Huffington Post UK the capital is rife with rumours about the possibility of revenge attacks by Gaddafi forces.
"They say maybe he has a back-up plan, maybe he is going to bomb the whole city, there are some rumours the water was poisoned by Gaddafi, so they cut the water off and there’s no water now.”
Following a statement from Human Rights Watch’s North Africa Director, Sarah leah Whitson, on Sunday said evidence indicated “Gaddafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling”, Abu Srewil said he knew many who had died.
“Lots of people have died. Each family has maybe one or two. About 12 days ago by Gaddafi’s militias, there were 10 people who were playing cards, they arrested five and two days ago we got informed the five got slaughtered. And then they got bullets all over their bodies. We had never seen something like that.”
He added: “I met a doctor in Tripoli, he told me this story his friends in other hospitals got killed by Gaddafi’s forces because they were treating the rebels.”
Last week Al Jazeera told National Public Radio (NPR) that dozens of corpses has been discovered at a hospital after fighting between rebel and loyalist forces.
Abu Srewil said before the uprising, he assumed Gaddafi would crush any rebellion against his rule. “I would never expected it. I always think I would live in Gaddafi’s regime, I will die in Gaddafi’s regime.
“Gaddafi is very coward. I think he’s either been hiding in one of his tunnels underground. He has a lot of them. Everything he has is connected, it’s up to 10km, a whole city down there. Either he’ll be in Algeria or some African country.”
The Tripoli student said his emotions about the rebel victory in his city were mixed.
“I lost some dear friends. So I’m happy but we lost a lot. After Gaddafi’s gone, then we can celebrate”, he said.
“It’s celebrating mixed with fear."
The comments came as the Foreign Office announced Britain were placing a small team of diplomats in Tripoli on the ground as part of the preparations before they establish a wider diplomatic presence.
“The Prime Minister announced on 22 August that the UK would establish a British diplomatic presence in Tripoli as soon as it is safe and practical to do so. A small FCO-led team, consisting of diplomatic and technical staff, is now on the ground in Tripoli.. This reflects the recent military progress which means that some members of the NTC have already moved to Tripoli", a spokesperson said on Monday.
“We remain in regular consultation with the NTC about our plans. Notwithstanding the deployment of a preparatory team, no date has been set for the opening of the British Embassy. This will depend on political and security developments over the coming days.”