News Column

Gadhafi's Wife, Three Children, Arrive In Algeria

Aug29, 2011

The wife and three of the children of toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have fled to neighbouring Algeria, Algeria's foreign ministry confirmed Monday.

Safia and three of Gadhafi's eight children - his daughter Aicha and two sons Hannibal and Mohamed - crossed the Libyan-Algerian border at 845 am (0745 GMT), Algeria's official APS news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying in a statement.

The ministry had notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the second-in-command in Libya's Transitional National Council (TNC), Mahmoud Jibril, of their arrival, the report added.

The short report made no mention of the whereabouts of Gadhafi himself. Algeria, Libya's neighbour to the west, on Saturday vigorously denied reports that he had crossed into Algeria in a convoy of six armoured vehicles.

Italy's Ansa agency quoted unnamed Libyan diplomatic sources on Monday as saying he and his son Saadi were south-west of Tripoli, in Bani Walid.

Meanwhile, El-Watan, Algeria's leading French-language daily, reported that the government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was about to give orders to close the border.

Quoting anonymous "sure sources," El-Watan reported in its online edition that the government was about to give orders to the army, police and border authorities to close the 800-kilometre-long porous frontier between the two countries.

The reported decision, which had yet to be officially confirmed, comes amid growing nervousness in Algeria over the threat to its security from Islamist fighters within the ranks of Libya's rebels.

Algeria has a history of Islamist insurgency.

At least 18 people were killed late Friday in a twin suicide attack on a military academy in Cherchell, 100 kilometres west of the capital Algiers.

Algeria's position on the conflict in Libya has also been ambivalent.

The rebels have accused Algiers of having sent mercenaries to help Gaddafi's forces quell the six-month insurrection that has effectively ended Gadhafi's rule. Algeria has vigorously denied the allegations.

But unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Algeria has not yet recognized the TNC.

A military spokesman for Libya's rebels Ahmed Omar Bani on Sunday warned Algeria it would have to "justify" its stance.

On Sunday, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci met Jibril on the sidelines of an Arab League meeting in Cairo in the first high-level meeting between Algeria and the TNC.

None of the Gaddafi family members in Algeria are among those most sought by the rebels.

Safia Gadhafi is Gadhafi's second wife and mother of seven of his biological children. They also have an adopted son.

Mohamed Gadhafi was one of the sons the rebels had claimed to have captured when they stormed Tripoli eight days ago, but who later apparently escaped. He is the head of the Libyan Olympic committee.

Hannibal Gadhafi used to work in a company specialising in oil exports. In 2008, he was arrested in a hotel in Geneva on charges of assaulting two of his staff, but later released on bail. The incident caused a long diplomatic standoff between Libya and Switzerland.

Aicha Gadhafi is the Gadhafis' only daughter. She was part of the defence team of executed former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein.

Source: Copyright 2011 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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