Members of fugitive Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s family have entered Algeria, the country’s state news agency reports.
Algeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Gaddafi’s family, including his wife Sofia, daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammad, accompanied by their children, entered the neighboring country on Monday.
Their arrival was reported to the U.N. secretary-general and Security Council and the head of Libyan rebel Transitional National Council.
Mourad Benmehidi, the Algerian permanent representative to the United Nations, confirmed the report and told the New York Times the family was allowed in on “humanitarian grounds.”
Benmehidi did not say how many people were in the party, but said there were “many children.” He also said one of the women in the party gave birth near the border as they fled.
The ministry did not give any information about the ousted leader, whose whereabouts have been a mystery since rebels seized control of most of Tripoli last week.
The White House says there's no indication Gaddafi has left Libya.
Benmehidi said “was not there.”
“There is no indication of his intending to go to Algeria,” the ambassador said.
Rumors continued to swirl about where else the fugitive leader could be, with Italian news agency ASNA reporting that Gaddafi and his sons Saadi and Saif al-Islam were hiding out in the town of Bani Walid south of Tripoli, citing “authoritative Libyan diplomatic sources.”
Reports of Gaddafi’s family’s escape came as rebels consolidated control of Tripoli and as clashes continued in Sirte, the southern city of Gaddafi’s birth and headquarters.
The Associated Press writes that despite effectively ending Gaddafi’s rule, the rebels’ inability to find Gaddafi or family members “has cast a pall of lingering uncertainty over the opposition’s victory.”
Ahmed Jibril, an aide to rebel Transitional National Council head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said if the report of Gaddafi’s family’s escape is true, “we will demand that Algerian authorities hand them over to Libya to be tried before Libyan courts.”
The council also said it considers Algeria’s sheltering of Gaddafi family members an act of aggression and will seek their extradition.
Throughout the uprising, Algeria has been accused of providing Gaddafi with mercenaries to fight against the rebel forces.
Two days ago, Algeria strongly denied reports that Gaddafi and his sons might have entered the country on Friday in six armored Mercedes sedans.
According to BBC’s Gaddafi family tree, Sofia is Gaddafi’s second wife and the mother of seven of his biological children. The couple also adopted two children, including Hanna, a daughter who was reportedly killed in the American bombing of Tripoli in 1986. New findings suggest Hanna may still be alive.
Aisha Gaddafi, a lawyer and Gaddafi’s only biological daughter, used to run Libya’s largest charity. She was also a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Development Program before her role was canceled at the start of the government crackdown, and on the defense team of executed former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. She married a cousin of her father in 2006.
A CNN investigation of Hannibal Gaddafi’s seaside home Sunday found the fourth son of Gaddafi to be both “hedonistic” and “brutal.” His nanny was found horribly burned from mistreatment by Hannibel’s wife. Hannibel was in 2005 accused of beating his pregnant girlfriend in Paris and in 2008 arrested after two of his servants accused him of assault. He used to work for Libya's General National Maritime Transport Company, a company that specializes in oil exports.
Rebel forces earlier claimed to have captured Mohammad Gaddafi, but those claims later turned out not to be true. Born to Gaddafi's first wife, Mohammed headed the Libyan Olympic committee, which had its headquarters in Tripoli. He was also the Chairman of the General Post and Telecom Company, which owns and operates cell phone and satellite communications.
The whereabouts of Gaddafis other sons, including Saif al-Islam, Khamis and Muatassim, are not known.
Reuters reported Monday that Khamis had been killed in clashes in southern Libya, but that report has not been confirmed. Khamis, the seventh and youngest son of Gaddafi, is head of Libya’s elite paramilitary brigade.