UPDATE 1-New group of Muammar Gaddafi officials arrive in Niger

Fri Sep 9, 2011 11:58am GMT
 

(Adds further details on group)

AGADEZ, Niger, Sept 9 (Reuters) - A new group of 14 Muammar Gaddafi officials including General Ali Kana, a Tuareg who was in charge of Gaddafi's southern troops, are in Niger's northern city of Agadez, Niger security sources told Reuters on Friday.

Two sources said the group included four top officials, amongst them two generals. A local administrator said the other general was Ali Sharif al-Rifi, Gaddafi's commanding officer of the Libyan air force.

A Reuters reporter in Agadez said the four top officials were staying at the Etoile du Tenere hotel, a luxurious hotel in the outskirt of the town, said to be owned by Gaddafi, where the Libyan leader stayed during a Muslim holiday in 2007.

"The group arrived in four four-wheel-drive vehicles on Thursday afternoon," one of the sources said, adding that they had been accompanied by Nigerien security forces.

A Reuters cameraman said local officials of the Agadez region including the chief of police, the chief of the gendarme and the head of intelligence were seen entering the hotel to meet the four senior officials from Libya.

Five plain clothes police officers and three uniformed gendarmes are stationed inside the walls of the hotel while two armed gendarmes are stationed at the gate, the cameraman said.

No official Nigerien comment was immediately available.

The arrival of the group follows that of the head of Gaddafi's security brigades, Mansour Dhao, who crossed into Niger in a convoy on or around Sept. 4.

Niger has said it had allowed the Libyans into its territory on humanitarian grounds. It has come under international pressure to hand over former Gaddafi officials suspected of human rights abuses. (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Agadez and Nathalie Prevost in Niamey; writing by Bate Felix; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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