Qaddafi’s whereabouts a mystery

BENGHAZI: There was intense speculation over fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s whereabouts Wednesday. Libya’s new leaders sent envoys to neighboring Niger to try to prevent Qaddafi and his entourage from evading justice by fleeing across a desert frontier toward friendly African states.”The NTC has sent a delegation to Niger to discuss the possible arrival of Qaddafi,” Fathi Baja, the head of political affairs for the National Transitional Council, told Reuters in Benghazi, saying the ousted strongman may be close to the Niger or Algerian borders, waiting for an opportunity to slip across.

“I think he’s near one of these borders … and he’s looking for a chance to leave. We’re asking every country not to accept him. We want these people for justice,” Baja said.Niger Justice Minister Marou Amadou denied Qaddafi was in his country and said reports of a 200-vehicle convoy entering the country from Libya in recent days were not true.But French and Niger military sources told Reuters the convoy did arrive near the northern city of Agadez late on Monday via Algeria, which last week welcomed Qaddafi’s wife, daughter and two of his sons.A French military source said Qaddafi might be preparing to meet up with the convoy and seek refuge in Burkina Faso, another nearby African state. Burkina Faso denied any such plan.

The Pentagon said it had no indication that the ousted Libyan leader had left the country.The African Union meanwhile denounced reports of racist attacks in Libya and the head of its executive arm urged the new rebel government there to dissociate itself from the violence.The chairman of the AU commission, Jean Ping, said many members of the African Union had not yet recognized the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya because of reports of anti-black violence.”Blacks are being killed. Blacks hare having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries. Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?” Ping demanded.

Global watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as media organizations including AFP, have gathered reports of African migrants and residents in Libya being murdered in racist attacks.Ping’s statement came as international aid agencies said over 1,700 sub-Saharan African migrants have now taken refuge at a southern Libyan desert town and Qaddafi stronghold amid urgent efforts to try to evacuate them to safety.

The migrants, including women and children, are stranded in Sabha, held by forces loyal to Qaddafi, and fear for their safety if rebel forces storm the town.”We are working on the possibility of evacuating them either by air or road, possibly to the Chad border. We would need escort security,” Jean-Philippe Chauzy, spokesman of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told Reuters.The IOM is trying to coordinate the evacuation with the NTC and local authorities in Sabha, according to Chauzy. – Arabnews