The Libyan rebels' interim government announced it is moving from Benghazi to the capital, Tripoli, another step towards taking control, as bursts of heavy gunfire erupted around Muammar Gaddafi's last stronghold early today.
Before dawn, eruptions of gunfire were heard coming from near the Tripoli neighbourhood of Abu Salim, where rebels battled Gaddafi's fighters holed up in residential buildings for most of the day yesterday.
Smoke rose from the area but a rebel at the scene early today said the fighting in Abu Salim had ended by nightfall yesterday.
Gaddafi is still on the run, but a minister in the rebel government said his capture is not a prerequisite for setting up a new administration in the capital.
"We can start rebuilding our country," Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni, of the National Transitional Council, told a news conference.
"He (Gaddafi) is the one who is basically in the sewer, moving from one sewer to another."
Even with his regime in tatters, Gaddafi has tried to rally his followers to kill the rebels who waged war for six months to bring down Libya's ruler of 42 years.
"Don't leave Tripoli for the rats. Fight them, and kill them," he said in a new audio message broadcast on Al-Ouroba TV, a Syria-based satellite station.
Since sweeping into Tripoli on Sunday, the rebels have been struggling to take complete control. On Tuesday, they took Gaddafi's sprawling government compound, Bab al-Aziziya, and have also been battling for control of the nearby neighbourhood of Abu Salim.
The fight for Abu Salim has been particularly bloody. Bullet-riddled bodies from both sides sprawled on the ground.
Outside Bab al-Aziziya, there was another grim scene, one which suggested execution-style killings of civilians.
About two dozen bodies - some with their hands bound by plastic ties and with bullet wounds to the head - lay scattered on grassy lots in an area where Gaddafi sympathisers had camped out for months.
The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were believed to be activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gaddafi and in defiance of the Nato bombing campaign.
Five or six bodies were in a tent erected on a roundabout. One still had an IV in his arm, and another body was completely charred, its legs missing. The body of a doctor, in his green hospital gown, was found dumped in the canal.
It was unclear who was responsible for the killings.
Despite the chaos, members of the National Transitional Council announced they are moving the rebels' interim government from the eastern city of Benghazi, which fell to rebel forces early in the conflict, to Tripoli.
"In the name of the martyrs... I proclaim the beginning... of the work of the executive office in a free Tripoli as of this moment," Mr Tarhouni told reporters.
"I have a final message for everyone who is still carrying arms against the revolution," he said, "to let go of their arms and go back to their homes, and we promise not to take revenge against them."