If the Libyan rebels needed a reminder that their mission to topple Muammar Qaddafi's regime is not yet complete, they got it last night when the Libyan leader issued a defiant radio address suggesting that he'd been moving about Tripoli "discreetly" and vowing "martyrdom" or victory. "As long as Qaddafi remains in Libya, then there will be no security," rebel leader Abdel Hafiz Ghog told Bloomberg. "He must be finished off, either through death or capture." On Tuesday, the rebels stormed Qaddafi's Tripoli compound, coming away with hats, weapons, and a golf cart but no Qaddafi.
Now the rebels are broadening their hunt for Qaddafi. The BBC notes that while it's unclear whether Qaddafi and his relatives were in their Tripoli compound when it was attacked, the family is "believed to have access to numerous safe houses in Tripoli and beyond" and may be trying to reach Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte or the southern city of Sebha, from which Qaddafi could escape through the desert to neighboring Niger and Chad. A rebel official in London suggested today that Qaddafi had escaped to a farm on the outskirts of the capital--a claim, The Telegraph notes, that's supported (however thinly) by "what sounded like chickens squawking in the background of Qaddafi's audio message" (another rebel official speculated to Reuters that Qaddafi is in southern Tripoli where clashes are underway). The Telegraph adds that tunnels beneath Qaddafi's compound may lead to Tripoli's port, an airport in eastern Tripoli, and the Rixos Hotel, where government minders are carefully guarding around 30 foreign journalists. The BBC's Jon Leyne suggests that Qaddafi could very well be hiding out among the reporters. "One gets the impression that there's possibly a high value target in the Rixos hotel," he writes. "It's hard to understand otherwise why the Qaddafi people are defending it so strongly, unless they're just leaderless and carrying on with the orders they were given as no one has countermanded it."