Libyans hunting Moammar Gadhafi offered a $2 million bounty on the fallen dictator's head and amnesty for anyone who kills or captures him as rebels battled Wednesday to clear the last pockets of resistance from the capital Tripoli.
While some die-hard loyalists kept up the fight to defend Gadhafi, his support was crumbling by the hour. His deputy intelligence chief defected, and even his foreign minister said his 42-year rule was over.
A defiant Gadhafi vowed from hiding to fight "until victory or martyrdom," in an audio message early Wednesday.
He may have little choice. Asked by the British broadcaster Channel 4 if a negotiated settlement or safe passage for Gadhafi from Libya was still possible, Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi said: "It looks like things have passed this kind of solution."
Rebel leaders were beginning to set up a new government in the capital. Their interim administration, the National Transitional Council, has been based in the eastern city of Benghazi, which fell under rebel control shortly after the outbreak of widespread protests in February.
"Members of the council are now moving one by one from Benghazi to Tripoli," said Mansour Seyf al-Nasr, the Libyan opposition's new ambassador to France.
Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the opposition government, outlined plans for a new constitution and elections and said officials were talking to the U.N. about sending up to 200 monitors to help ensure security in Tripoli.
Rebels found no sign of Gadhafi after storming his compound Tuesday, but rumors churned of his possible whereabouts.
"He might be in Sirte or any other place," Jibril said in Paris, where he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sirte, a coastal city 250 miles from Tripoli, is Gadhafi's hometown and a bastion of regime support.
The rebels have taken control of much of Libya with the help of a relentless NATO air campaign that included about 7,500 strike attacks against Gadhafi's forces. His defenses around Tripoli melted away as the rebels rapidly advanced and entered the capital Sunday.
Late Wednesday, a rebel spokesman said rebels released thousands of inmates from the prison at Abu Salim, many of them political prisoners who had been held there for years.
Matthew VanDyke, a writer from Baltimore missing since March in Libya, was among those who escaped, his mother said.
VanDyke called her and said he had been held in solitary confinement, but fellow prisoners helped him escape to a compound where he borrowed a phone. He had traveled to Libya to write about the uprising against Gadhafi.
About 200 people ransacked the beachfront villa of Gadhafi's son Saadi, driving off with four of his cars -- a Lamborghini, a BMW, an Audi and a Toyota station wagon, said Seif Allah, a rebel fighter who joined in the looting, taking a bottle of gin and a pair of Diesel jeans.
At the once-luxurious Rixos Hotel near Abu Salim and Bab al-Aziziya, dozens of foreign journalists were freed after being held captive for days by pro-government gunmen.