Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s wife and three of his children entered Algeria early Monday, and rebel leaders said later they would demand that authorities there extradite the group to Libya.
The Algerian Foreign Ministry announced that Gadhafi’s wife Safiya, daughter Aisha, and two of his sons, Mohammad and Hannibal, had all crossed into the country by car. They said the spouses of the Libyan leader’s children and their offspring also had arrived.
Officials in Algiers said they reported the information to the United Nations Secretary-General and Libya’s opposition Transitional National Council. Rebel officials have previously accused Algeria – Libya’s only North African neighbor that has not recognized the council – of backing Gadhafi and providing him with mercenaries to suppress the revolt. Algeria has denied the charge.
The Libyan leader’s whereabouts remain unknown, along with those of his other sons. Senior rebels officials said Monday that Gadhafi’s son Khamis, head of an elite paramilitary brigade, may have been killed Saturday in clashes south of Tripoli. His death has been announced several times since Libya’s conflict erupted but was never confirmed.
Gadhafi’s sons played important roles in Libya’s military and economic life.
Meanwhile, opposition forces continue to search for the embattled former leader. Unconfirmed reports say he is in government-controlled territory south of Tripoli, but Gadhafi has not been seen since rebel fighters seized the capital last week. The White House said the U.S. government has no indication that the ousted leader has left Libya.
In Libya Monday, rebel forces drew closer to Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte. Rebel commanders in Misrata say opposition forces pushing toward Sirte from the west on moved within 30 kilometers of the coastal city, located 450 kilometers east of Tripoli.
A rebel spokesman Sunday said anti-government forces will seize Sirte by force if negotiations fail with tribal leaders for its surrender.
The head of the rebel council, Mustafa Jalil, said Monday that Gadhafi still poses a threat to Libya and the world. Jalil also called for the continued support of NATO, which has been carrying out airstrikes against pro-Gadhafi forces since March under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians.
Leaders from governments backing NATO operations over Libya are meeting Thursday in Paris to discuss ways to help Libyans now that the opposition has gained control over most of the country. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those who will attend the talks.
France said it dispatched a team to Tripoli on Monday to reopen its embassy after closing it for six months as rebels fought for control of the country.
The International Organization for Migration said Monday its ship evacuated about 850 stranded migrants and displaced Libyans from Tripoli one day earlier.
A Red Cross ship entered Tripoli harbor Sunday carrying supplies for the city, which saw days of fighting between rebels and Gadhafi supporters last week. A VOA correspondent reported that the capital has widespread shortages of medicine, drinking water and other basic supplies. Many areas are still without electricity.
Human Rights Watch said Sunday that pro-Gadhafi forces committed possible war crimes as rebels moved into the Libyan capital last week. They say researchers have documented more than 110 corpses in four locations in Tripoli. Many of them appear to have been killed execution-style either while in detention or with their hands bound.