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Tripoli awash in guns, rumors amid Gadhafi hunt

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Aftermath of violence in Tripoli
  • Moammar Gadhafi's captured compound is littered with spent shells and debris
  • Rebels surrounded an apartment building on a tip the fugitive leader was inside
  • Snipers and mortar attacks are taking a toll on civilians, an aid worker says

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Fugitive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound was strewn with shell casings and litter two days after its capture by rebel forces, while the bodies of a dozen bound men lay in a nearby intersection.

The sprawling complex was littered with spent anti-aircraft shells, with rebel fighters picking through the detritus of the life Gadhafi's supporters left behind when they fled. An armored BMW sedan sat abandoned in a garage near the "House of Resistance," the bombed-out building that Gadhafi left unrepaired as a monument to a 1986 U.S. airstrike that killed one of his daughters.

Several NATO airstrikes and the onslaught that led to the fall of the Bab al-Aziziya compound on Tuesday inflicted more damage on the site, the symbolic heart of Gadhafi's nearly 42-year rule. But during a visit by CNN to part of the compound on Thursday, there was no sign of the network of tunnels and bunkers long believed to have been built beneath Gadhafi's headquarters. Nor was there any sign of Gadhafi or his sons, the subjects of an intense manhunt since their regime crumbled.

The streets outside Bab al-Aziziya are awash in guns and rumors, including one that saw rebel fighters surround a nearby apartment complex Thursday on a tip that Gadhafi was inside. He was not found.

Gallery: Fight for Libya
Bodies litter Gadhafi compound

The National Transitional Council, the rebel leadership, says it is determined to flush him out with minimal civilian losses. "We don't want to spill a lot of blood, you know, because they are our brothers," one rebel fighter said.

At a nearby intersection, a dozen bodies lay in the sun, some of them with their hands bound. Rebel fighters say the men were executed by Gadhafi's retreating forces. But the bodies appear to be those of black Africans, who made up a large portion of the pro-Gadhafi forces, raising questions about whether the men may have been executed by the rebels.

To the south of the compound, which is located near Tripoli's Mediterranean shore, fighting between rebel fighters and Gadhafi loyalists persisted. Snipers and mortar shells continued to inflict casualties on hundreds of civilians, said Kirstie Campbell, a worker for the International Medical Corps in Tripoli.

"I've worked in war zones for 10 years, but this is pretty bad," she said.

CNN's Dan Rivers and Thomas Evans contributed to this report.

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