Gaddafi 'probably wounded'

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Muammar Gaddafi may have fled Tripoli and there are reports that he has been hurt, the Italian foreign minister said today.

Franco Frattini said that Tripoli's Catholic bishop has said Gaddafi is "probably wounded".

Frattini stressed that Italy has "no hard information on the current fate of Gaddafi".

Still, "I tend to take as credible the words of the Tripoli Archbishop (Giovanni) Martinelli who tells us that Gaddafi is very probably outside of Tripoli and probably also wounded," the ANSA news agency quoted Frattini as telling reporters in Rome.

Frattini said "international pressure has likely provoked the decision by Gaddafi to seek refuge in a safe place." That comment came during a TV interview that was posted on the Corriere della Sera newspaper's website.

"I lean toward the solution of an escape from Tripoli, not an escape from Libya," Frattini said. "Libya is a big country, with desert areas."

Martinelli has been a vocal critic of the Nato bombing campaign against the regime's forces.

Gaddafi's compound has been a frequent site of Nato-led air strikes, including an attack on April 30 where he is believed to have been inside but have escaped unharmed.

Seeking to quell speculation he might have been killed, Libyan state TV this week showed Gaddafi meeting tribal leaders, apparently in a Tripoli hotel on Wednesday.

Frattini said he had "many doubts that that footage had been made that day and especially in Tripoli."