TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, (Reuters) – Forces loyal to deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi held out in a few Libyan towns on Tuesday even though their leader has gone to ground and most of his family has fled the country.
As anti-Gaddadfi fighters converged on his birthplace Sirte from east and west, Libya’s interim council gave the loyalists holed up there a four-day deadline to surrender or face a bloody end.
“By Saturday, if there are no peaceful indications for implementing (a negotiated surrender), we will decide this matter militarily. We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait longer,” council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said.
Gaddafi’s wife Safia, and his sons Hannibal and Mohammed entered Algeria on Monday morning, along with their children, Algeria’s Foreign Ministry said.
His pregnant daughter Aisha was also among the party and she gave birth within a day to a girl, a source close to Algeria’s health ministry said.
The interim council accused Algeria of an act of agression in giving refuge to the family. But Algerian officials said the the plight of the expectant mother weighed on the decision.
The baby was born in Djanet, according to two Algerian official sources. An oasis deep in the Sahara, Djanet lies about 60 km (40 miles) from the Libyan frontier and 500 km southwest of Sabha, one of the last bastions of support for Gaddafi.
Aisha, who is in her mid-30s, was on the very point of giving birth when the family appealed to cross the border, an Algerian source said.
GADDAFI “WENT TO SABHA”
Muammar Gaddafi’s whereabouts have not been generally known since his foes seized his Tripoli compound on Aug. 23, ending his 42-year rule after a six-month revolt backed by NATO and some Arab states.
Britain’s Sky News, citing a young bodyguard of his son Khamis, said the fallen leader had stayed in Tripoli until Friday when he left for Sabha.
It quoted the captured 17-year-old as saying Gaddafi met his son Khamis, a feared military commander, at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday in a Tripoli compound that was under heavy rebel fire. Gaddafi had arrived by car and was soon joined by Aisha.
After a short meeting, they boarded four-wheel drive vehicles and left, the bodyguard told a Sky reporter, adding that his officer had told him: “They’re going to Sabha.”
Some anti-Gaddafi officers have reported that Khamis Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi were both killed in a clash on Saturday. This has not been confirmed and NATO said it had no word on Khamis’s fate.
NATO BOMBERS EYE SIRTE
At forward positions of NTC forces, on the main coastal road some 100 km (60 miles) west of Sirte, a Reuters correspondent saw little sign of military action on Tuesday.