Gadhafi wife and relatives leave Libya for Algeria
TRIPOLI, Libya — Algeria said Monday that it had allowed a two-vehicle caravan of Moammar Gadhafi’s relatives, including his second wife and three of his children, into the country. The flight of his relatives provided powerful new evidence of surrender by the Gadhafi clan as rebels consolidated their hold on Tripoli, the capital.
Gadhafi’s wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha, and two of his sons, Mohammed and Hannibal, all crossed into Algeria, said Mourad Benmehidi, the Algerian permanent representative to the United Nations. The spouses of Gadhafi’s children and their children arrived as well, he said.
The announcement was the first official word on the whereabouts of any members of the Gadhafi family since the colonel was routed from his Tripoli fortress by rebel forces a week ago, a decisive turn in the Libyan conflict.
The family was allowed in on “humanitarian grounds,” he said, and the Algerian government informed the head of the National Transitional Council, the rebel government in Libya, of its decision. There was no official request from the rebels for their return, Benmehidi said.
The whereabouts of Gadhafi remained unknown, along with those of his other sons, most notably Seif al-Islam, his second-in-command; Khamis, the head of an elite paramilitary brigade; and Muatassim, a militia commander and Gadhafi’s national security adviser. A rebel spokesman said Sunday that Khamis Gadhafi might have been killed on Saturday, but that no positive identification had been made.
On Monday, new hints emerged about the locations of the family and members of its inner circle. A former associate of the Gadhafi government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said that Ibrahim had sought refuge in Sirte, his hometown. Gadhafi is also from Sirte, which remains under the control of his loyalists.
The rebels have said they would not consider their victory complete until they capture or kill the colonel, who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years.
For its part, NATO seemed intent on continuing its mission, mandated by a U.N. Security Council resolution in March.
“We believe the Gadhafi regime is near collapse, and we’re committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion,” Adm. Samuel Locklear, the head of NATO’s Joint Operations Command, said at a news conference in Doha, Reuters reported.
“Pockets of pro-Gadhafi forces are being reduced day by day,” he said. “The regime no longer has the capacity to mount a decisive operation.”
He said NATO air strikes had destroyed 5,000 military targets in Libya.