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Gaddafi nearly captured on Wednesday: report

File photo of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi giving a speech in Rome
File photo of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi giving a speech in Rome

PARIS (Reuters) - Libyan commandos fighting Muammar Gaddafi came close to capturing the toppled leader on Wednesday when they raided a private home in Tripoli where he appeared to have been hiding, Paris Match magazine said on Thursday.

Citing a source in a unit which it said was coordinating among intelligence services from Arab states and Libyan rebels, the French weekly said on its website that these services believed Gaddafi was still somewhere in the Libyan capital.

Gaddafi was gone from the unassuming safe house in central Tripoli when agents arrived about 10 a.m. (4 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday after a tip-off from a credible source. But, the magazine said, they found evidence that he had spent at least one night there -- though it did not say how recently that was.

France has taken a leading military role in the NATO force backing the rebels. Britain's defense minister said on Thursday that NATO was helping with intelligence and reconnaissance in the hunt for Gaddafi and his sons. Many analysts believe France, Britain and Arab allies, notably Qatar, may have some special forces on the ground in Tripoli working with Libyan commandos.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)