Libya's rebel forces were pushing hard on Tuesday to take control over Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, even as the fallen despot's family members fled to Algeria and one of the sons was reportedly killed and buried by the rebels near Tripoli.
Gaddafi has remained untraceable a week after his Tripoli bastion fell to the rebels. If we knew where Gaddafi was now our revolutionaries would be on their way to capture him ... We have no information that Muammar Gaddafi is in Libya or in any other place, National Transitional Council (NTC) chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil told al Jazeera TV.
Addressing a meeting of top NATO generals in Doha, Qatar, Jalil said the NTC would try to bring back Gaddafi's family from Algeria for trial. He sought international assistance in securing the country's stability and future even as Western leaders fretted over Gaddafi's potential hold on destructive arsenal, including chemical weapons.
On Monday, the NTC had said it would ask the Algerian government to extradite Gaddafi's family so that they stand trial in Libya.
Along with Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Gaddafi and brother-in-law and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of war crimes.
The whereabouts of these three are not known though it has been confirmed that Gaddafi's wife Safia, daughter Aisha and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, crossed over to Algeria, along with other members of the extended family.
According to the Algerian Foreign Ministry, they entered Algeria on Monday at 8:45 a.m. local time (0745 GMT) across the border.
There are rumors that Gaddafi might try to flee to neighboring countries Algeria or Chad.
The rebels would find it anti-climactic if Gaddafi manages to flee to Algeria as it would help him, as well as son Seif and Sanussi, to possibly evade trial under war crimes charges.
But should any of those three get to Algeria, there is no guarantee they would face trial. Algeria is not a signatory of the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court, CNN reported.
Though the rebel forces are in the last gasp efforts to take complete control over the country and establish order, they are baffled by continued mystery over Gaddafi's whereabouts.
CNN reported that rebel commanders could not find Gaddafi in the network of tunnels beneath his Bab al-Aziziya compound. Though it was reported that he could be holed up in an apartment block nearby or at a farm near Tripoli's airport, these proved wrong.
The United States said there was no indication that he has managed to leave the country. The UK government said the fate of Gaddafi's relatives was a matter for the NTC.
Algeria has not recognized the NTC and has adopted a stance of strict neutrality on the Libyan conflict, AFP has reported. As many as 40 countries have recognized the rebels and the NTC.