BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The son of the Libyan rebel military chief assassinated last week accused “traitors” within the opposition of killing his father to create cracks in the rebel ranks, and demanded an open investigation and speedy trial for the perpetrators.
In Tripoli, meanwhile, Moammar Gadhafi’s regime vowed to keep fighting until it has reclaimed the whole country from the rebels.
The rebel leadership has insisted the assassination of military chief Abdel-Fattah Younis, who was killed Thursday, was the work of the Gadhafi regime, but several witnesses say Younis was killed by fellow rebels. The slaying has fueled concerns about unity within the revel movement nearly six months after the revolt began.
Younis’ son, Moatassim, told The Associated Press late Monday that his family doesn’t have “a clear idea of who killed my father, but we know that it was premeditated and we call for a speedy trial.” Any delay, he said, would be considered “a move to circumvent the revolution.”
He also acccused “individuals among us” of carrying out the assassination in an attempt “first to stop this revolution and secondly to incite violence in liberated cities.”
No arrests have been made in connection with the killing.
Younis was Gadhafi’s interior minister until he defected to the rebellion early in the uprising, bringing his forces into the opposition ranks. His move raised hopes among rebels and Western allies that the uprising could succeed in forcing out the country’s ruler of more than four decades. But some rebels remained deeply suspicious that he retained loyalties to Gadhafi.
Libya’s civil war, which began in mid-February, has settled into a stalemate. The rebels control the eastern half of the country as well as pockets in the west around the port city of Misrata and a string of towns in the Nafusa mountains. Gadhafi controls the rest of the western half of the country from his stronghold in Tripoli.
Late Monday in the capital, Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam vowed to push on until rooting out the rebels from all parts of Libya.
Addressing loyalists who had fled from Benghazi back to Tripoli, he said: “No one should think that after all the sacrifices we have made, and the martyrs who have died, that we will stop fighting. Whether NATO stayed or left, the fighting will continue until we liberate all of Libya.”
Two weeks ago, 32 nations including the U.S. made a major commitment by formally recognizing the opposition as the country’s legitimate government — a significant boost after many allies hesitated in part because the rebels, a mix of tribes and factions, were largely an unknown quantity.
In Brussels, NATO said rebel forces from the Nafusa mountains had made advances southwest of Tripoli.
Col. Roland Lavoie said on Tuesday that unconfirmed reports that the village of Jawsh — located about 180 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of the capital — had fallen, illustrated “how dynamic the situation remains.”
NATO has been at pains to highlight any rebel gains in a war characterized mainly by static front lines which have barely budged in months.
Lavoie said NATO would make up the loss of Norway’s contribution to the air campaign. Norway pulled its planes from the operation Monday. He said the Norwegian jets had carried out 596 missions, which he called “a considerable contribution to our mission, especially when you consider the size of their air force.”
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