When the fighters who ousted Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi find caches of weapons from his arsenals, they do not entrust them to Libya s new provisional government. Instead, they haul them back to their hometowns, like Misurata, Zintan, Yafran or Rujban. And when they capture members of the Qaddafi government, the fighters say, they cart them home as well.
With rebels on the verge of ending Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi s long reign, the character of their movement is facing its first real test: Can they build a new government of unity and reconciliation, or will their own internal rivalries mean divisions in the new Libya?
The circumstances in which Gaddafi's regime falls is important for the future of Libya. Will he himself flee, disappear to fight again, be arrested or die in the last ditch? Will his supporters be hunted down and killed? After a civil war lasting six months, a stable peace means that those who fought for him should not be treated as pariahs to be slaughtered, arrested, threatened with reprisals or politically marginalised.
Opposition leaders say they arrested dozens of armed men loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in their eastern bastion, but have suffered a blow in Libya's west, losing a village at the foot of a key mountain range. At least 63 people suspected of having links to Gaddafi, and of murdering the rebels' military chief, were rounded up by the rebels, following an hours-long battle in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.
Rebel fighters challenging the rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi waged an eight-hour gunfight here in their de facto capital on Sunday, against what their leaders called a 'fifth column' of Qaddafi loyalists who had posed as a rebel brigade. It was the latest sign of discord and trickery in the rebel ranks to emerge in the four days since the killing of the rebels top military leader, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, a former Qaddafi confidant who had defected to their side.
The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) had issued a warrant for the arrest of its top general, who was killed by gunmen after he had been held and questioned by their investigators regarding "a military matter", the head of the council says.
The loyalty of the rebel commander killed was in question. "He was a man who was the interior minister for Gaddafi. He was a personal friend for 40 years and that friendship shone through." - "When I [interviewed] him, he said he changed sides because the Gaddafi he knew was not the Gaddafi that was leading the country any longer."
The death of the Libyan rebels' chief of army staff, Abdel Fatah Younis, has raised fears of a rift within opposition forces amid speculation that he may have been killed by gunmen on his own side.
The head of the Libyan rebels said Thursday that the leader of the opposition's military forces, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, had been assassinated, along with two rebel colonels. But few details were provided about the attack that, if confirmed, would represent a major blow to the effort to topple Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.