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Libya LiveBlog: Uninstalling a Regime...Phase 1 Complete

See also Libya (and Beyond) Special: Paradigm Shift --- What the Experts Get Wrong Tells A Much Bigger Story
Libya Analysis: Explaining the Uprising --- "Libyans Have Written Their Own Epic"
EA Sports Special: The Great Ex-Dictators Drag Race --- Ben Ali's Ferrari v. Qaddafi's Tok Tok
Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Yesterday's Conflict

2055 GMT: Opposition fighters have liberated Qaddafi's infamous Abu Slim prison, south of Tripoli. The prison fell with very little resistance, and the prisoners have been set free.

In 1996, prison guards killed 1200 prisoners after they complained about prison conditions.

2043 GMT: The Qaddafi forces have set fire to the Brega oil refinery before they retreated from the town:

2038 GMT: CNN's Matthew Chance has this assessment of his release from the Rixos hotel:

"Crisis ended when #rixos gunmen realised that #Libya outside of hotel doors was no longer Libya of old. Handed us their guns & said 'sorry.'"

2034 GMT: CNN's Arwa Damon is reporting that there is a heated battle over the airport in Tripoli. Apparently, Qaddafi forces have been bombarding the position, opposition artiller has been returning fire, and a plane on the tarmac in on fire.

2007 GMT: Al Jazeera gives us a great look into the wreckage of the Qaddafi compound in Bab al Aziziyah, Tripoli:

1901 GMT: Al Jazeera's James Bays reports from a hospital in Tripoli, where the fight is far from over:

1853 GMT: More details on four Italian journalists who have been abducted in Libya. The four were traveling towards Tripoli on a 50 kilometer road from Zawiyah. Their driver was killed, and the four were captured, apparently by Qaddafi regime supporters. One of the journalists managed to make a phone call, and has said that they are fine.

1844 GMT: CNN's Matthew Chance reports from an International Red Cross vehicle as it drives away from the Rixos hotel just moments after the international journalists were freed:

1840 GMT: General Khalifah Mohammed Ali. Qaddafi's second in command of the intelligence agency, has defected and pledged support to the NTC. Also, Libyan embassy officials in multiple countries have also defected.

1832 GMT: According to Sky News, the Italian Foreign Ministry is reporting that 4 Italian journalists have been kidnapped near Zawiyah, in western Libya, this morning.

1712 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar reports that fighting is still intense around Qaddafi's compound in Bab al Aziziyah, Tripoli, and a huge plume of black smoke is rising over the scene.

1705 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that opposition fighters have captured a major Qaddafi military base near Zuara, west of Tripoli.

1701 GMT: Zeina Khodr and Sue Turton give us an overview of the current battle near Tripoli:

1642 GMT: Over the last several days, US Senator and former GOP Presidential Nominee John McCain has been striking out at President Obama for not contributing enough military capacity to the campaign in Libya. Today, however, the Guardian has discovered a totally different reality.

As late as 2009, John McCain, along with Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, met with top Qaddafi officials in the embassy in Tripoli and pledged to supply additional weapons to the Qaddafi government as a "reward" for ending their WMD programs.

1530 GMT: Twitter testimony to the pockets of fighting that continue in Tripoli....

The BBC's Paul Danahar send the message, "Inside Qaddafi compound. Fierce fight going on. Rebels attacking low level building with heavy machine gun. Small arms fire coming back."

James Bays of Al Jazeera English writes, "Man shot and injured a short time ago, close to my position. Gaddafi still controls some pockets, and still firing Grad and mortar."

1516 GMT: Apparently, Paul Danahar, the BBC's Middle East Bureau Chief, played a crucial role in the liberation of the Rixos hotel. Here is his Tweet stream of the event:

Written in carpark at #Rixos trying to evacuate #BBC team. Their guard pointed gun at me when got out of car said 'get back #Libya #Tripoli

Deranged old man with AK47 waving gun at anyone who tries to leave. Other guard is young & seems willing to let them go #Tripoli #Libya

Another car arrived but guards now furious pointed guns at him & he's screeched off. Hacks forced back inside. #Libya #Tripoli

#heavy arms fire breaking out as I sit in #Rixos carpark trying with colleague to extract our team. Minutes passing v slow #Libya

30 mins gone by. Fighting stopped for a bit. Chaos inside hotel as hacks try to persuade armed guards to let them out. #Tripoli

Now gunfire coming closer to hotel. Fear rebels are going to storm hotel with BBC inside & us in carpark. Our car armoured #Libya #Tripoli

Old man disarmed but one more guard inside. Fears of snipers on roof.

2nd guard disarmed. Waiting.

They're out we've got then #Tripoli #Libya

1511 GMT: According to Reuters, the NTC has called on oil workers at the Brega and Ras Lanuf oil fields to return to work and restart the oil fields.

1451 GMT: This is breaking news. Journalists who were detained in the Rixos hotel in Tripoli have now been set free. These tweets offer a timeline from CNN's Matthew Chance:

330p local time: Negotiating with guards for our release. They said we can leave, but in small groups.

We are expecting the ICRC and Chinese embassy to send cars to pick us up. Fingers crossed.

4:00p local time: Pandemonium in lobby of hotel, all going back upstairs. Another anti- climax

410p local time: After a heart to heart with Arab speaking journos, two Gadhafi guards disarmed

415p local time: This feels like the end game in this dramatic and unpleasant situation.

Running across upper floors of hotel to find a flag with TV written on it. They want to put it on the car.

Getting flags with “TV” on them ready for when we are released. Which we hope is soon.

BBC cars arrives at #rixos, BBC crew is leaving the hotel.

436pm local time: BBC has left the hotel

437pm local time: ICRC cars have arrived at the hotel.

438pm local time: Now pulling out of #rixos hotel after 6 days of a complete nightmare. Still dodgy situation

439pm local time: Crammed with other journos in the car. Reuters, other cameramen, FOX, and AP

We have been holed up together for what seems like an eternity. We could finally get out freedom!!!

I can see the NTC rebels. We are nearly there!

Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out!

1446 GMT: BREAKING - Rixos hotel journalists are now free.

1412 GMT: Algeria is increasing its security on the Libya border in an attempt to stop anyone from fleeing the conflict.

1404 GMT: As Matthew Chance noted (1337 GMT), the reporters stuck in the Rixos hotel have scoured the entire hotel, looking for supplies, and perhaps even a way out. They are adamant that there are no secret passages underneath. Now, the Turkish firm that built the hotel also denies that there are any secrets underneath the building.

1353 GMT: Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports from Tripoli:

We are seeing plumes of smoke in various areas .. in the Abu Salim neighbourhood, that is still under the control of Gaddafi loyalists, there have been attacks there on people who have said they are rebels.. The military council are getting together to decide how to form a plan of attack. The military council is very keen to do something quite quickly and bring down the pockets of resistance that are still present..

1348 GMT: NATO is confirming that they have conducted 8 air strikes in the last 24 hours and 46 air strikes yesterday in the following locations near Tripoli:

In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, 2 Military Heavy Equipment Truck, 3 Surface to Air Missile System, 1 Radar.

In the vicinity of Ras Lanuf: 3 Armed Vehicles, 3 Multiple Rocket Launchers.

In the vicinity of Zuwarah: 2 Tanks, 3 Armed Vehicles, 2 Military Trucks, 1 Military Facility.

1344 GMT: The Guardian adds that the NTC has offered a $1 million reward for Colonel Qaddafi.

1342 GMT: Sky News is reporting that the NTC has offered amnesty to anyone who kills or captures Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

1337 GMT: CNN's Matthew Chance reports from the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, at the far end of the Qaddafi compound in Bab al Aziziyah. He tells a story that the Qaddafi loyalists have denied entry by some other journalists, firefights have waged outside, and a few more journalists have even joined the group:

1317 GMT: James Miller reports for duty, and he brings a message from Muammar Qaddafi, an audio message that was broadcast earlier this morning:

1140 GMT: Evan Hill of Al Jazeera English an hour ago, "Just left the Bab al-Aziziya [Qaddafi compound]. Sniper fire first, then rockets landed behind, in front and then 20 meters from me as I lay on the ground."

1125 GMT: Luke Harding of The Guardian files a wide-ranging report from Tripoli, including a look at the papers of the former Prime Minister, a talk with an insurgent military commander, and a visit to the "ghastly scene" of dead and wounded at hospital:

Luke Harding rifles through the papers of Libyan PM after he flees to Tunisia #Libya (mp3)

1040 GMT: A series of tweets from Paul Danahar of the BBC on the current situation in Tripoli:

Just been 1km from Rixos [Hotel, held by Qaddafi forces]. Firefight along road leading to entrance....Am at Qaddafi compound where fight still going on with remnants of his troops. Constant sound of explosions & gunfire....Rebels trying to outflank & surround the Qaddafi forces still holding in his compound. Heavy gunfire going on....Have driven right thru Tripoli & only found very small pockets of Qaddafi forces. Rebel checkpoints every 500m....Rocket or RPG fired from inside compound landed few hundred mtrs from where I am. Some locals now pulling back....More reinforcements of rebel fighters arriving at Qaddafi compound to finish the fight.

1035 GMT: Ahmed Jehani, a senior representative of the National Transitional Council, has said that tha new government will honour all the oil contracts granted by the Qaddafi regime: "The contracts in the oil fields are absolutely sacrosanct. All lawful contracts will be honoured whether they are in the oil and gas complex or in the contracting....There's no question of revoking any contract."

0955 GMT:Last weekend, we featured the State TV newsreader who brandished a gun during her broadcast and declared she would shoot anyone who tried to take over the station.

Claimed footage has now been posted of the arrest of Hala Misrati by insurgents.

0945 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Evan Hill, reporting from the Qaddafi compound this morning: "Explosions have been heard here and occasional gunfire. Rebels told me there are snipers about and that four people have been injured by gunshots."

The saga of the 35 foreign journalists and politicians trapped in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli continues. Matthew Price of the BBC reported this morning on a "desperate situation", with pro-"addafi guards patrolling the corridors. He reported that a cameraman for Britain's cameraman had an AK47 pulled on him by a guard and that he suspected that there were snipers on the roof.

With food running short, Matthew Chance of CNN tweets, "I had a Mars bar for breakfast."

0635 GMT: A follow-up on yesterday's initial story --- which now seems a political eternity ago --- of the false capture and re-appearance of Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam....

Mahmoud Jibril, a senior member of the National Transitional Council, said he was told by phone by an insurgent from Tripoli of Saif al-Islam's arrest. The caller said he had not been involved in the arrest but would seek visual confirmation. Jibril then contacted the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Seif al-Islam, and requested assistance if the report proved true.

An aide admitted, "The NTC received a call from a group in Tripoli claiming they had Seif al-Islam in custody. They should have checked the source before going public," said an aide to the NTC.

Jibril claimed yesterday that the episode had brought unexpected benefits --- the news of Saif al-Islam's arrest, even though it was untrue, spurred a number of foreign governments to recognise the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and prompted some regime forces to lay down arms.

0630 GMT: More raw footage, courtesy of Reuters and The Guardian of yesterday's seizure of the Qaddafi compound in Tripoli:

0505 GMT: There are still pockets of fighting this morning in Tripoli, but in all but his latest audio broadcast --- a call on residents to "cleanse" the Libya capital --- Muammar Qaddafi is literally gone, as none of the insurgents who stormed his Bab al-Azazia compound yesterday could claim the ultimate prize of the former ruler's capture, and politically gone,  the symbols of his power being torn apart and taken away. The dramatic re-appearance of Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, belying reports of his capture with a convoy in front of the Rixos Hotel and a declaration that the "rats" had been broken by regime supporters, would prove to be one of the last gasps of his father's 42-year rule.

Insurgents will try and remove the last resistance from Tripoli, including the regime's position around the Rixos Hotel, where foreign journalists --- who came to the Libyan capital to cover the story ---- find they are one of the stories as captives, running out of food while hoping the siege is lifted. And then the narrative is likely to move to Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte, to the east of Tripoli, in a last significant hold-out by his forces. And --- breaking our normal rule of no speculation --- it may be where the former Libyan leader will be found.

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