Algeria’s foreign ministry confirmed on Monday that Safia Gaddafi, wife of the embattled Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi, had arrived on Algerian territory along with other family members.
The presence of members of the Gaddafi family in Algeria could prove an embarassment to the authorities there, not least as domestic public opinion has long been uneasy about the government’s ambiguous stance towards the conflict in Libya.
The foreign ministry added that it had informed the United Nations and Libya’s transitional national council of the group’s crossing into their country.
Safia Gaddafi crossed into Algerian territory early on Monday along with three of Col Gaddafi’s children and some grandchildren, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official APS news agency.
The group comprised Col Gaddafi’s oldest son, Mohammed (born to his first wife, Fatiha); Hannibal Gaddafi, 36; and the 35-year-old lawyer Aicha Gaddafi, along with their children, according to the ministry.
On Saturday, a foreign ministry spokesman had dismissed reports that six armoured Mercedes vehicles, possibly with senior Libyan figures on board, had been seen crossing into Algeria via the country’s long desert border with Libya.
“There are a lot of doubts about the government’s relationship with the Gaddafi regime, and about why these people have now come to Algeria,” Faycal Metaoui, a columnist with the Algiers-based El-Watan newspaper, told the Financial Times.