Kadhafi hiding in hospitals to avoid air strikes: source

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Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi is hiding in hospitals as he becomes increasingly "paranoid" about NATO air strikes, a diplomatic source said, quoting British intelligence reports.

The information has persuaded NATO powers engaged in the air campaign in Libya that now is the right time to increase the pressure on the veteran Kadhafi, the source said late Thursday at the G8 summit in France.

"There is a strong consensus that we need to be turning the screw now and that is partly informed by our intelligence reports from the ground," the European diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity.

"One quite striking thing is the fact that Kadhafi appears to be moving from hospital to hospital, spending each night in a different one, and his motive appears quite clear," the source said.

"He is moving from one place that we won't bomb to another place that we won't bomb."

The intelligence was provided by Britain, the source confirmed.

The United States, France and Britain have denied specifically targeting Kadhafi with air strikes but have hinted that it would not be illegal under the terms of the UN Security Council resolution authorising military action.

Several air strikes have hit Kadhafi's compound in Tripoli in recent weeks and the source said the intelligence reports meant the Libyan leader was now "on the run."

"There is a picture building up of this man who is very paranoid, and of a regime that is increasingly feeling the pressure and beginning to fracture," the source added.

"He is worried about further defections, other people trying to find a way out, he is clearly concerned."

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday authorised the use of Apache helicopters in Libya and said he wanted to "turn up the pressure" on Kadhafi.

© 2011 AFP

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