BANI WALID/SIRTE, Libya - Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists said on Monday they had captured 17 mercenaries -- some British and French -- in what would amount to a severe blow to Libya's new rulers and their international backers.
The claim by the fugitive ousted leader's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim could not be verified, but it comes as the new authorities are facing stark reversals on the battlefield and in the political arena.
"A group was captured in Bani Walid consisting of 17 mercenaries. They are technical experts and they include consultative officers," Gaddafi spokesman Ibrahim said on Syria-based Arrai television, which has backed Gaddafi.
"Most of them are French, one of them is from an Asian country that has not been identified, two English people and one Qatari."
The French foreign ministry said it had no information about the report. The British foreign ministry said it was aware of media reports about the capture of mercenaries but was not able to substantiate them. Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment.