Muammar Qadhafi’s wife and three of his children fled Libya to neighbouring Algeria on Monday, firm evidence that the long time leader has lost his grip on the country.
Mr. Qadhafi’s whereabouts were still unknown and rebels are worried that if he remains in Libya, it will stoke more violence. In Washington, the Obama administration said it has no indication Mr. Qadhafi has left the country.
Rebels also said one of Mr. Qadhafi’s sons, elite military commander Khamis, was probably killed in battle.
The Algerian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Mr. Qadhafi’s wife Safia, his sons Hannibal and Mohammed, and his daughter Aisha entered the country across the land border. It said Algerian authorities have informed the United Nations Secretary General, the President of the U.N. Security Council, and the head of the Libyan rebels transitional leadership council.
Ahmed Jibril, an aide to rebel National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said officials would “demand that Algerian authorities hand them over to Libya to be tried before Libyan courts.”
Mr. Qadhafi’s children played important roles in Libya’s military and economic life. Mr. Hannibal headed the maritime transport company; Mr. Mohammed the national Olympic committee. Ms. Aisha, a lawyer, helped in the defence of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the trial that led to his hanging.
Ahmed Bani, military spokesman of the council, said he was not surprised to hear Algeria had welcomed Mr. Qadhafi’s family. Throughout the six-month Libyan uprising, rebels have accused Algeria of providing Mr. Qadhafi with mercenaries to repress the revolt.