Gadhafi's wife and three children flee to Algeria
Algeria Press Service quotes country's Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying that Libyan leader's family entered the neighboring country on Monday; still unclear whether Gadhafi himself is with his family.
Members of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's family were reported Monday to have arrived in Algeria, a neighbor Libyan relatives have accused of supporting the ousted regime.
The report cited Algeria's Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying the family entered the neighboring country on Monday. It did not immediately provide additional details or say whether Gadhafi himself was with the family.
The report came as battles raged on two sides of Sirte, the southern city that is the headquarters of Gadhafi's tribe and his regime's last major bastion. The rebels were consolidating control of Tripoli, the capital.
Despite effectively ending his rule, the rebels have yet to find Gadhafi or his family members, something that has cast a pall of lingering uncertainty over the opposition's victory.
A National Transitional Council spokesman said on Monday that Libya's de facto government considers Algeria's sheltering of members of Muammar Gadhafi's family an act of aggression and will seek their extradition.
"We have promised to provide a just trial to all those criminals and therefore we consider this an act of aggression," spokesman Mahmoud Shamman told Reuters.
"We are warning anybody not to shelter Gadhafi and his sons. We are going after them in any place to find them and arrest them," he said.
The Egyptian news agency MENA, quoting unidentified rebel fighters, had reported from Tripoli over the weekend that six armored Mercedes sedans, possibly carrying Gadhafi's sons or other top regime figures, had crossed the border at the southwestern Libyan town of Ghadamis into Algeria. Algeria's Foreign Ministry had denied that report.
Ahmed Jibril, an aid to rebel National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said if the report of Gadhafi relatives in Algeria is true, "we will demand that Algerian authorities hand them over to Libya to be tried before Libyan courts."
Ahmed Bani, military spokesman of the council, said he was unsurprised to hear Algeria had welcomed Gadhafi relatives. Throughout the six-month Libyan uprising, rebels have accused Algeria of providing Gadhafi with mercenaries to curb the revolution.
Earlier Monday, Abdul-Jalil told senior NATO envoys meeting in the Gulf Arab nation of Qatar that Gadhafi can still cause trouble.
"Gadhafi is still capable of doing something awful in the last moments," Abdul-Jalil told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations including France, Italy and Turkey.
"Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO," he added. NATO has been bombing Gadhafi's forces since March under a United Nations mandate to protect Libyan civilians.
Rebels appear to have secured the capital after a week of fierce fighting in which they captured Gadhafi's compound and then cleared loyalists holed up in the residential neighborhood of Abu Salim nearby.
In Tripoli Monday, the brother of the Libyan man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing said Abdel Baset al-Megrahi should not be returned to prison in the West because he is "between life and death" at his family's home in the capital.
New York senators on Aug. 22 asked the Libyan rebels' transitional government to hold al-Megrahi fully accountable for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people. Rebel leaders have said they will not extradite him.
The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009, believing he would soon die of cancer. He was greeted as a hero in Libya.
Outside Tripoli, Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte is still a bastion of support and some have even speculated that the ousted leader himself may have fled there. Rebels have been converging from the east and west on Sirte, 250 miles east of Tripoli, preparing to battle Gadhafi loyalists.
A NATO officer who could not be identified due to alliance rules spoke of fighting 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Sirte. He said the regions of Sirte, Bani Walid south of Misrata and Sebha further south are conflict areas where both anti-Gadhafi and pro-Gadhafi forces continue to operate.
However, no fighting in Sirte itself has been reported yet and rebel leaders say they are trying to negotiate a peaceful surrender with local tribes to avoid further bloodshed.
Rebels say they want to take Gadhafi alive so they can try him in Libya.