Gaddafi family members flee to Algeria without him

Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:26pm EDT
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By Samia Nakhoul

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The wife of Muammar Gaddafi and three of his children took refuge in Algeria on Monday but the whereabouts of the former strongman himself remained a mystery a week after rebels drove him from power.

Algeria's Foreign Ministry said Gaddafi's wife Safia, his daughter Aisha and his sons Hannibal and Mohammed had entered Algeria on Monday morning.

The development threatened to create a diplomatic rift just as the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) worked to consolidate its position as Libya's new government.

An NTC spokesman accused Algeria, Libya's western neighbor, of an act of aggression and said the council would seek to extradite the Gaddafis.

A senior rebel officer also said Gaddafi's son Khamis, a feared military commander, had been killed in a clash outside of Tripoli. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Meanwhile rebel forces converged on Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte from east and west, intent on seizing one of his last bastions of support either by force or by negotiation.

Muammar Gaddafi's whereabouts have not been known since Tripoli fell to his foes and his 42-year-old rule collapsed a week ago after a six-month uprising backed by the West and several Arab nations.

Algeria's acceptance of Gaddafi's wife and offspring angered the rebel leadership, who want him and his entourage to face justice for years of repressive rule and who fear that he could orchestrate a new insurgency unless he is captured.   Continued...

<p>A rebel fighter drives his vehicle as he patrols with other rebels in the town of Abu Grein, some 128 km (80 miles) west of Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi's last remaining stronghold, August 29, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic</p>