World

Gadhafi family members flee Libya, Algeria says

Several members of deposed Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's family have fled the country and arrived in Algeria, according to media reports citing the Algerian foreign ministry.

Anti-Gadhafi commander claims one of deposed ruler's sons killed in battle

Libya's anti-Gadhafi forces say they have seized about 150 tanks from a military base near Misrata and prepared to use them as part of a possible operation to take control over the central Libyan city of Sirte, Moammar Gaddafi's last remaining stronghold. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Several members of deposed Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's family have fled the country and arrived in Algeria, according to media reports citing the Algerian foreign ministry, in a further sign his regime has collapsed.

The official Algeria Press Service reported the ministry said Gadhafi's wife Safia, daughter Aisha, as well as sons Mohammed and Hannibal, entered the neighbouring country on Monday morning. Other reports said some of Gadhafi's grandchildren were with the group. The reports did not say whether Gadhafi himself was with the family.

Drivers began honking their horns and people shouted in the streets of central Tripoli shortly after news of the family's departure emerged, the CBC's Derek Stoffel reported from the capital via Twitter.

Algeria has been slow to recognize the National Transition Council as Libya's official government, and it is thought the country would harbour Gadhafi should he flee Libya, said the CBC's Susan Ormiston, who is also in Tripoli.

Mohammed Gadhafi, oldest son of deposed Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, is reportedly in Algeria with other members of Gadhafi's family. (STR/Reuters)

"Algeria certainly now is playing a role in this conflict [by] offering a refuge for some of Gadhafi's family," she said.

An Algerian official said the Gadhafis were admitted to the country "on humanitarian grounds."

A commander with forces loyal to the Anti-Gadhafi National Transition Council (NTC) also said one of Gadhafi's other sons, Khamis, was killed in battle near the capital. There was no independent confirmation of the claim.

The NTC has previously been embarrassed when it claimed another of Gadhafi's sons, Seif al-Islam, was captured, only for the once-heir-apparent to Gadhafi's rule to emerge the next day at a public appearance before supporters in Tripoli.

Gadhafi still a 'danger to the world'

The report comes as the head the NTC urged NATO to continue its air campaign supporting the fight against Gadhafi's forces, saying the ousted ruler still poses a "danger to the world."

NTC chair Mustafa Abdul-Jalil made the appeal for continued NATO pressure at a meeting with senior alliance officials in the Gulf nation of Qatar on Monday, as anti-Gadhafi forces pressed on toward Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

CBC News in Libya

The CBC's Susan Ormiston and Derek Stoffel travelled to the site of a suspected massacre on Sunday on a Gadhafi military camp. Read their full report.

"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," Jalil said following the meeting in Doha.

He said Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are unknown, is still capable of "doing something awful in the last moments."

"Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO," Jalil stressed.

Battle expected for Gadhafi stronghold

Lockerbie bomber found

The Libyan man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 airline passengers over Scotland has been tracked down in Tripoli and is clinging to life, according to a report.

CNN reports that Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi is near death, surviving only with help from an oxygen machine and an intravenous drip. He has stopped eating and is drifting in and out of consciousness, according to the report by longtime CNN correspondent Nic Robertson.

The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009, believing he would soon die of cancer. He was greeted as a hero in his native country and met with now-deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the NTC has agreed to review al-Megrahi's case, but a Scottish government official said Scotland has no plans to seek his extradition.

The NTC has been struggling to deal with severe shortages of fuel, water and electricity in the battle-weary capital, Tripoli, after seizing control of the city last week. The council's forces now control most of the country and are planning an offensive on Sirte — a bastion for the Gadhafi clan during his 42-year rule over the nation.

On Sunday,  a spokesman for Gadhafi said the deposed leader is willing to take part in a transfer of power — a sharp contrast to earlier promises that he would fight until victory or death.

But the NTC has rejected the overture, insisting Gadhafi and his family must surrender before any talks begin. The council has said it wants to try him in Libya for crimes against humanity.

Anti-Gadhafi forces have been converging from the east and west on Sirte, preparing to do battle with Gadhafi loyalists.

However, no fighting there has been reported yet and rebel leaders say they are trying to negotiate a peaceful surrender with local tribes to avoid further bloodshed.