Tripoli - Several key supporters of fugitive Muammar Gaddafi have fled to Niger from the southern desert city of Sabha, freshly captured by new regime forces, a spokesperson for the transitional government said on Thursday.
"Prominent figures who were Gaddafi supporters fled to Niger after the fall of Sabha" on Wednesday, Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, the military spokesperson of the National Transitional Council (NTC), told a news conference without providing names or other details.
He said that Sabha, 750km south of Tripoli, was under the complete control of revolutionary forces, even though "Gaddafi snipers continue to fire".
"Pockets of resistance still exist in [the oasis of] Sabha, but the city and surrounding communities have been freed by the revolutionaries," Bani said, adding that "90% of southern towns have been liberated".
Bani called on citizens in regions still under pro-Gaddafi control to fight "these criminals who use people as human shields".
Saadi Gaddafi, a son of the fugitive leader, recently sought refuge in Niger.
Niamey has acknowledged it has received 32 prominent Gaddafi family members and loyalists, including three generals.
Niger has officially recognised the NTC, but maintains it accepted Gaddafi loyalists "on humanitarian grounds."
Last week Niger said it would not send Saadi Gaddafi back home, while promising to respect its international commitments.
On a visit to Libya last Thursday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was confident that Niger would live up to its commitments over Gaddafi loyalists.