Gaddafi is still strong, says captured general

Close to 70 per cent of people in Tripoli still support Muammar Gaddafi and he is in no danger of falling soon, one of his intelligence officers said yesterday.

"For the most part Tripoli is stable. There is some opposition to Gaddafi but I would say he is safe," said Brig-Gen Al-Hadi al-Ujaili, who was captured by rebels pushing north towards Zawiyah, 50km (30 miles) west of Tripoli.

General Ujaili, who described himself as a member of Libya's intelligence service, added: "Gaddafi still has the support of key tribes. He is still very strong."

Colonel Gaddafi is clinging to power despite nearly five months of Nato air strikes, sanctions and a war with rebels. Reuters was allowed to speak to General Ujaili inside a concrete hut in the village of Shalghouda shortly after he was arrested. He was composed and almost defiant.

"There is opposition to Gaddafi in some parts of Tripoli," said General Ujaili. "I have heard that there are still demonstrations there. It's a problem." The government is dealing with it, he said. "When people get out of line they are arrested." Asked by a rebel, "How can you do this to your own people?", he smiled and said: "I will tell you the truth. There are no problems in Libya."