The New York Times reports that Qaddafi’s wife and three of his children have fled to Algeria. This according to the Algerian Foreign Ministry.
It was the first official news on the whereabouts of any members of the Qaddafi family since he was routed from his Tripoli fortress by rebel forces a week ago, a decisive turn in the Libyan conflict.
In a brief announcement carried by Algeria’s official news agency APS, the ministry said Colonel Qaddafi’s wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, “entered Algeria at 08:45 a.m. (0745 GMT) through the Algeria-Libyan border.”
The announcement gave no further details. The whereabouts of Colonel Qaddafi himself remain unknown, along with those of his other sons, most notably Seif al-Islam, his second-in-command; Khamis, head of an elite paramilitary brigade; or Muatassim, a militia commander and Colonel Qaddafi’s national security adviser.
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“Algeria’s APS news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying that Col Gaddafi’s wife Safia, daughter Ayesha and sons Muhammad and Hannibal had crossed into Algeria early on Monday.
The report came as rebels in Libya were trying to overcome the pockets of resistance by Gaddafi loyalists.
Col Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown.
The arrival of Col Gaddafi’s wife and three children in Algeria had been reported to the UN and to Libyan rebel authorities, the Algerian foreign ministry said.
It said they had crossed the border between Libya and Algeria at 08:45 local time (07:45 GMT) on Monday.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi said first word of such a move had already come from Libyan rebel headquarters two days ago, and that at the time, Algerian authorities denied that a convoy of six heavily armoured vehicles had crossed the border.
Muhammed and Hannibal are two of the sons with the least involvement in politics.
There is still no reliable word of the whereabouts of the other sons, although some opposition officials have suggested they may be in or close to the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte.
The rebels say they think Col Gaddafi himself may still be in the Tripoli area, our correspondent says.
A spokesman for the NTC said it considered Algeria’s sheltering of Col Gaddafi’s family an act of aggression and would seek their extradition.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.