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Spokesman: Qaddafi Still In Libya


Ousted Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi

Muammar Qaddafi's spokesman says the ousted ruler remains in Libya and is safe and well.

Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim made the comment by telephone to Reuters news agency, amid reports that a convoy of Libyan vehicles had crossed the desert border into neighboring Niger.

"He is in Libya,” Ibrahim said. “He is safe. He is very healthy. He is in high morale. He feels very much that he is doing exactly what he should be doing. He feels that this is what history will record -- that he stood very honorably, very bravely, against the powers of evil."

The United States said it believed the Libyan convoy was carrying senior members of Qaddafi's regime. Washington has urged Niger to detain anyone who could be prosecuted for alleged crimes committed during the uprising against Qaddafi.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Qaddafi was "on the run," but U.S. officials said there was no reason to believe he had left Libya.

Niger has confirmed reports that Qaddafi's security chief Mansour Dhao had been allowed to enter Niger.

Meanwhile, the standoff has continued over Bani Walid, one of the last major Libyan towns still held by Qaddafi loyalists.

Anti-Qaddafi forces have surrounded the town and are threatening an attack unless the town surrenders to the authority of the National Transitional Council, which is seeking to strengthen its rule as Libya's interim government.

compiled from agency reports