Libya conflict: journalists trapped in Tripoli’s Rixos hotel

The Guardian reports:

Conditions have deteriorated sharply at the Rixos hotel in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where more than 30 foreign journalists are trapped by fighting in the surrounding streets.

The BBC’s Matthew Price gave a graphic account of life inside the five-star hotel close to Muammar Gaddafi’s compound of Bab al-Aziziya taken by rebels on Tuesday, describing it as “the siege of the Rixos”.

“It’s a desperate situation,” Price told Radio 4’s Today programme. “The situation deteriorated massively overnight when it became clear we were unable to leave the hotel of our own free will … Gunmen were roaming around the corridors … Snipers were on the roof.”

The 35 foreigners at the hotel are mainly British and American journalists from the BBC, Sky, CNN, Fox, Reuters, Associated Press and Chinese television. Price said a US congressmen and an Indian parliamentarian were among the group.

The New York Times reports:

Rebel fighters sought to consolidate their hold on Tripoli on Wednesday and continued to hunt down an elusive and defiant Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, a day after they crashed through the gates of his fortresslike compound, ransacking its barracks for weapons and carting off mementos of his 42-year dictatorship.

As a reminder that he remained on the loose, Colonel Qaddafi, in an address broadcast early Wednesday on a local Tripoli radio station, called his retreat from the compound “tactical,” several news reports said.

He blamed months of NATO airstrikes for bringing down his compound and vowed “martyrdom” or victory in his battle against the alliance. Urging Libyan tribes across the land to march on the capital, he said: “I call on all Tripoli residents, with all its young, old and armed brigades, to defend the city, to cleanse it, to put an end to the traitors and kick them out of our city.”

“These gangs seek to destroy Tripoli,” he said, referring to the rebels, who began taking control of Tripoli late on Sunday. “They are evil incarnate. We should fight them.”

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