Moammar Gadhafi’s second wife, two sons and a daughter arrived in Algeria on Monday as rebels closed in on the Libyan dictator’s last stronghold.
A statement carried by Algeria’s official news agency, APS, said Col. Gadhafi’s wife, Sofia; his daughter Aisha; and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, had “entered Algeria at 8:45 a.m. through the Algerian-Libyan border.”
A spokesman for the rebels’ National Transitional Council said it will demand that the Gadhafis be handed back to Libya to stand trial.
The rebels put Mohammed Gadhafi under house arrest last week, but he escaped in a firefight.
There was no word on the whereabouts of Col. Gadhafi and his three other sons, Seif al-Islam, Mutassim and Khamis.
In Qatar, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, chairman of the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said Col. Gadhafi still poses a threat to Libya.
“Gadhafi’s defiance of the coalition forces still poses a danger, not only for Libya but for the world,” . That is why we are calling for the coalition to continue its support,” he said at a meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The rebels have offered a $1.7-million-dollar reward for Col. Gadhafi’s capture, dead or alive.
Seif al-Islam, the one-time heir apparent to his father, was last seen when he made a surprise appearance at a Tripoli hotel in the early hours of Aug. 23.
Khamis Gadhafi heads the elite 32nd Brigade, also known as the Khamis Brigade, which has been accused of wide-scale atrocities in the conflict.
Mutassim Gadhafi served as national security adviser in his father’s regime.
Rebels have claimed repeatedly that Algeria has been supporting Col. Gadhafi’s regime with weapons, military aircraft and mercenaries since the start of their uprising in February.
Algeria and Syria were the only countries in the Arab League to vote against supporting a no-fly zone over Libya.
A spokeswoman for the Algerian Embassy in Washington denied the allegations.
Two rebel sources told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity that they think Col. Gadhafi and the rest of his family may also have escaped to Algeria.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Col. Gadhafi, his son Seif, and Abdullah Senussi, Col. Gadhafi’s brother-in-law and intelligence chief. They are accused of committing crimes against humanity.
Near Col. Gadhafi’s tribal stronghold, Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, rebels were engaged in a fierce battle against the regime’s loyalists.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.