A senior general loyal to Moamer Kadhafi has been captured in southern Libya, an official from the country's new regime told AFP Tuesday, as the hunt for the toppled dictator intensified.
"General Belgacem Al-Abaaj, Kadhafi's intelligence chief in the Al Khofra region, was captured" on Monday some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the southern Libyan town of Sabha, said Mohamed Wardugu, spokesman for the "Desert Shield Brigade" in Benghazi.
Al-Abaaj, who had been sought by the forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC), was seized with members of his family who were traveling in five four-wheel drive vehicles, added Wardugu.
"This general has committed many crimes in Al Khofra (in Libya's far south) and when this town was liberated he fled towards (central) Al Joufra (centre)," where he commanded sabotage operations against the new regime forces, Wardugu told AFP.
Wardugu, brother of brigade commander Barka Wardugu, said that the NTC forces had entered Sabha, taken control of the airport and the garrison there but that fighting was continuing in some quarters.
Total control of the town "will be achieved in some hours" he added.
More than 300 Kadhafi mercenaries had fled the fighting. "our fighters ambushed then and killed, wounded or captured many," Wardugu added, without giving figures.
Elsewhere fierce fighting raged on Monday in Bani Walid, as new Libyan regime fighters attacked the oasis town where Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam is believed holed up, possibly with his father.
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Kadhafi, Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi have been on the run since rebels overran Tripoli on August 23. They are wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
In Geneva, meanwhile, a UN team set up to investigate rights violations in Libya said it was concerned about allegations that many black Africans were being illegally detained there.
"In recent weeks, reports have emerged of the mass arrest of black Africans who are suspected of being pro-Kadhafi mercenaries," Philippe Kirsch, a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya, told the Human Rights Council.
Wardugu launched an urgent appeal on behalf of the residents in the region, mainly ethnic Toubou who make up three to four percent of the total population, calling on "France, Britain, the United States, to all Western nations, to the Arab countries and to humanitarian organisations to bring in aid."
People in the region have in recent months suffered with a lack of drinking water, electricity, medicine and food shortages, he said.
"Women, children, the elderly are dying every day. Some of the injured are transported to Benghazi (2,500 kilometres away) to receive treatment."
Wardugu also complained that the new transitional government line-up included no representative of the semi-nomadic Toubou people.
"We have been oppressed for 42 years (under Kadhafi) and we will not accept being marginalised in the new Libya," he stressed.