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Gadhafi Son Captured In Sirte, Libyans Say

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Libya's interim government claims it has captured Mutassim Gadhafi, the fifth son of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi, as he tried to flee the city of Sirte, some reports said Wednesday.

Mutassim Gadhafi had been leading the resistance in Sirte. Various reports say he has been taken to Benghazi for questioning.

The head of the Tripoli Revolutionary Council told Reuters that the younger Gadhafi was in custody. "He was arrested today in Sirte," Col. Abdullah Naker told the news agency.

But another Libyan spokesman said he has no information that Mutassim Gadhafi has been seized.

Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council in Benghazi, says his office has called commanders in Sirte and that "so far as we are concerned there is no confirmation that Mutassim Gadhafi has been captured."

His capture, if true, would be the first of an immediate Gadhafi family member. Another Gadhafi son, Saif al Islam, was reported to have been arrested in August, but later appeared at a Tripoli hotel where he met with foreign journalists.

Heavy fighting continued in Sirte on Wednesday. The head of the ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, told a news conference he was hopeful NTC forces would soon declare total victory over the pro-Gadhafi forces that are still in control of two small areas of Sirte.

"I hope that liberation will be declared in less than a week, after we free Sirte," in remarks quoted by BBC News. "And within less than a month we will form a transitional government and the youth and women will have a role in that."

Al-Qaeda leader calls for Islamic state

Earlier, al-Qaeda's new leader called on Libyan fighters who overthrew Gadhafi to set up an Islamic state and urged Algerians to revolt against their longtime president in a new internet video posted on Wednesday.

Ayman al-Zawahri warned Libyan revolutionaries to protect their gains against "Western plots," claiming NATO will demand they give up their Islamic faith as the country sets up a new government.

"The first thing NATO will ask you to do is to give up your Islam and not to implement Islamic Shariah law," al-Zawahri said "They want the non-religious and the atheists who don't accept Shariah to rule the Islamic world."

The 13-minute video entitled "And the defeats of Americans continue" was released by al-Qaeda's media arm and surfaced on militant websites. It shows al-Zawahri, wearing a white robe and turban, sitting against a green backdrop.

Al-Zawahri, who is Egyptian, also urged Algerians to revolt against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and follow the examples of Arab uprisings that toppled the autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.