- Son seeks to boost Gaddafi's Tripoli fightback
- Drug may help ease Ramadan headaches - study
- CORRECTED - Gaddafi son Saif at Tripoli hotel after arrest report
Posted: 22 Aug 2011 08:58 PM PDT
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A son of Muammar Gaddafi who rebels said they had captured appeared with cheering supporters in Tripoli, giving a boost to forces loyal to the veteran leader trying to fight off insurgents who say they control most of the capital.
Saif al-Islam, who has been seen as his father's heir apparent, visited the Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying to declare that the government was winning the battle against the rebels.
He took journalists to his father's Bab al-Aziziyah stronghold. Television footage showed Saif pumping his fists in the air, smiling, waving and shaking hands with supporters, as well as holding his arms aloft with each hand making the V for victory sign.
"We broke the back of the rebels. It was a trap. We gave them a hard time, so we are winning," Saif said.
Saif's arrest had been reported both by rebels and the International Criminal Court in The Hague and his appearance before the foreign media raised questions as to the rebels' credibility.
He said that Tripoli was under government control and that he did not care about the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court seeking him and his father for crimes against humanity.
Gaddafi himself has not been seen in public since some time before the rebels arrived in the capital at the weekend. But when asked if his father was safe and well in Tripoli, Saif told journalists: "Of course."
World leaders urged Gaddafi, 69, to surrender to prevent more bloodshed and appealed for an orderly transition of power, as the six-month-old battle for control of the oil-producing North African nation appeared to enter its final stages.
Rebels swept into Tripoli two days ago in tandem with an uprising within the city. Reuters reporters saw firefights and clashes with heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, as rebels tried to flush out snipers and pockets of resistance.
Hundreds seem to have been killed or wounded since Saturday. But Gaddafi tanks and sharpshooters appeared to hold only small areas, mainly around the heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziyah compound in central Tripoli.
Civilians, who had mobbed the streets on Sunday to cheer the end of dictatorship, stayed indoors as machinegun fire and explosions punctuated some of the heaviest fighting of the Arab Spring uprisings that have been reshaping the Middle East.
U.S. President Barack Obama, saying the conflict was not over yet, cautioned rebels against exacting revenge for Gaddafi's brutal rule. "True justice will not come from reprisals and violence," he said.
The president also made plain that the United States would oppose any group within the loose coalition of rebels from imposing its power over other parts of Libyan society.
"Above all we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya," Obama said.
In an audio broadcast on Sunday before state TV went off the air, Gaddafi said he would stay in Tripoli "until the end". There has been speculation, however, he might seek refuge in his home region around Sirte, or abroad.
In a sign Gaddafi allies were still determined to fight, NATO said government forces fired three Scud-type missiles from the area of Sirte towards the rebel-held city of Misrata.
Bab al-Aziziyah, a huge complex where some believe Gaddafi might be hiding, was the focal point of fighting in Tripoli.
"I don't imagine the Bab al-Aziziyah compound will fall easily and I imagine there will be a fierce fight," Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Transitional Council, said in an interview aired by Al-Jazeera.
The Arab network, quoting its correspondent, said violent clashes were also reported near the oil town of Brega.
Rebels had initially said they held three of Gaddafi's sons, including Saif al-Islam. Al-Jazeera TV said that one of them, Mohammed, had escaped, adding that the body of another son, military commander Khamis, might have been found along with that of powerful intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
FEARS OF REPRISAL, REVENGE
Western powers are concerned that tribal, ethnic and political divisions among the diverse armed groups opposed to Gaddafi could lead to the kind of blood-letting seen in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
In a move that could ease tensions, a rebel official in the eastern city of Benghazi said, however, that efforts were under way to make contact with authorities hitherto loyal to Gaddafi.
Foreign governments which had hesitated to take sides, among them Gaddafi's Arab neighbours, Russia and China also made clear his four decades of absolute power were over.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Libyans who said they represented Gaddafi were making "more desperate" efforts to negotiate with the United States in the last 24 to 48 hours.
Washington did not take any of them seriously because they did not indicate Gaddafi's willingness to step down, she added.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who took an early gamble on the rebels and may now reap diplomatic benefits, called on the Gaddafi loyalists "to turn their back on the criminal and cynical blindness of their leader by immediately ceasing fire".
Late on Monday, Sarkozy spoke to Britain's David Cameron by telephone about the Libya situation, according to a press release from the French presidential palace.
"They both agreed to pursue efforts in supporting the legitimate Libyan authorities as long as Colonel Gaddafi refuses to surrender arms," the statement read. Paris has offered to host a summit on Libya soon.
Cameron also spoke to Obama on Monday night.
Western leaders reiterated their refusal to commit military forces to peacekeeping in Libya, which could mean tackling rearguard loyalists using urban guerrilla tactics.
NATO has backed the revolt with air power but eschewed the ground combat that cost U.S. and allied lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Britain's International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the BBC there was no possibility of British military involvement being expanded in Libya.
"We do not see any circumstances in which British troops would be deployed on the ground in Libya," he said.
But some governments have had civilian advisers in Benghazi for months, and the swift military advance of recent days revived questions about the shadowy role of foreign special forces on the ground.
First signs emerged of moves to begin restoring oil production that has been the foundation of the economy and a source of hope for Libya's 6 million, mostly poor, people. Staff from Italy's Eni arrived to look into restarting facilities, said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
Italy, Libya's nearest European neighbour and the colonial power until World War Two, is a big customer for Libyan energy. But it will face stiff competition from others seeking a share of Libya's wealth -- a competition some fear could test the ability of untried rebel leaders to hold the country together.
(Reporting by Peter Graff in western Libya, Robert Birsel in Benghazi, William Maclean in London, Hamid Ould Ahmed and Christian Lowe in Algiers, Souhail Karam in Rabat, Richard Valdmanis in Tunis, Laura MacInnis and Alister Bull in Oak Bluffs, Mass.; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Alison Williams)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 22 Aug 2011 07:56 PM PDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A painkilling, anti-inflammatory drug may help prevent headaches in Muslims fasting from dawn to dusk for Ramadan, according to a study from Israel -- where a "Yom Kippur headache" is also known.
About four in every ten people who abstain from food and water all day during the month-long Ramadan period get headaches, said the study, published in the journal Headache. This year, Ramadan began on August 1.
"Religious fasting is associated with headache," wrote lead researcher Michael Drescher, from Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, the United States, referring to Ramadan and Judaism's Yom Kippur, when people fast for 25 hours.
"This has been documented as the 'Yom Kippur headache' and 'first of Ramadan headache.'"
Doctors aren't quite sure what causes them. It could be dehydration, or caffeine withdrawal in people who are used to getting their morning coffee, Drescher told Reuters Health.
"There's probably more than one thing going on," he added.
Drescher and his Israel-based colleagues had already shown that Jews who took the drug known as etoricoxib, or Arcoxia, before fasting for 25 hours on the Yom Kippur holiday got fewer headaches than those who didn't.
Arcoxia, a cousin of the painkiller Vioxx, isn't approved for use in the United States because the Food and Drug Administration decided it was too similar to Vioxx, which Merck pulled from the market in 2004 when it was linked to a higher risk of heart attack. But Arcoxia is available in Israel, among other countries.
The drug has a longer-lasting effect than some other painkillers, which is important because taking a pill in the middle of the day when a headache sets in would be considered breaking the fast.
"If you take Tylenol (acetaminophen)... by the time you get around to feeling the effects of the fast, the medicine is long out of your system," Drescher said.
To see how Arcoxia would work during Ramadan, the researchers assigned 222 adults planning to fast in 2010 to either take the drug or an inactive placebo pill just before the start of fasting each day. All participants recorded how often they had a headache, and how severe it was.
After a week they switched treatments.
During the first day of fasting, when headaches are thought to be most common, 21 percent of people taking Arcoxia reported having a headache, compared to 46 percent of those who took the placebo pill.
The Arcoxia group also reported fewer total headaches during that first week, the researchers wrote. And when they did have headaches, they rated them as less severe than participants taking the placebo.
After a week, there was no longer any difference in symptoms between the groups, partly because even the people taking the placebo reported fewer headaches during fasting as time went on.
Drescher said this sort of finding had been noticed before.
"As to why exactly it happens, we don't know. Perhaps the body goes through some sort of desensitization to the fasting," he said.
He added that although the researchers didn't contact any Muslim religious authorities about the use of the drug during fasting, none of the participants voiced any objection to it.
When the researchers previously talked to rabbis about use of Arcoxia during Yom Kippur, the Jewish leaders pointed out that not having a headache could allow people to be "freer spiritually."
"The religious edict to fast really is not a command to suffer," Drescher added.
The study was funded by Merck, which makes the drug, and two of the study's six authors are company employees.
(Reporting by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 22 Aug 2011 07:25 PM PDT
(Removes reference to hotel in paragraph 3; makes clear it Tripoli not Libya overrun in paragraph 4)
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Saif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who rebels and the International Criminal Court said had been arrested, arrived late on Monday at the Tripoli hotel where foreign reporters are staying.
Saif appeared at the Rixos Hotel late at night and spoke to foreign journalists there.
Television footage showed him pumping his fists in the air, smiling, waving and shaking hands with supporters, as well as holding his arms aloft with each hand making the V for victory sign.
Saif told journalists that Tripoli, which has been largely overrun in the past 24 hours by rebel forces seeking to topple his father, was in fact in government hands and that Muammar Gaddafi was safe.
Earlier, armed pro-Gaddafi security mean guarding the hotel took a small group of journalists to Gaddafi's Bab al Aziziyah compound, where they had a meeting with Saif.
They returned to the hotel accompanied by Saif, who then spoke to journalists in the lobby before taking some of them back to the compound a short distance away for a brief visit.
Saif said: "I am here to disperse the rumours ...
"This is a war of technology and electronics to cause chaos and terror in Libya. They also brought in armed gangs by sea and by road."
He was referring to a text message sent to mobile phone subscribers in Tripoli on Monday congratulating them on the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Saif also said that Tripoli was under government control and that he did not care about an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague seeking him and his father for crimes against humanity.
When asked if his father was safe and well in Tripoli, Saif told a journalist: "Of course."
(Reporting by Missy Ryan; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Alison Williams)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
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