Libyan leader Gaddafi greets Algeria's President Bouteflika before opening of the African Union summit in Sirte
Libyan leader Gaddafi greets Algeria's President Bouteflika before opening of the African Union summit in Sirte Reuters

The escape by members of Moammar Gadhafi’s family from Libya underlines two important themes: the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) has not consolidated its hold over the entire country; and since the leader of neighboring Algeria essentially allowed their entry, future relations between the two North African countries may be in serious jeopardy.

According to NTC officials, Gadhafi's second wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha and two of his sons, Hannibal and Mohammed --part of 32 people in total -- were able to depart Libya by traversing a road through central Libya that is not under NTC control.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of Australia, Guma al-Gamaty, the NTC's British coordinator, said the Gadhafi motorcade arrived at the Algerian border on Saturday.

''They were kept waiting there for 10 to 12 hours while the Algerian government decided what to do. It was the Algerian President himself [Abdelaziz Bouteflika] who authorized their entry,'' Gamaty said.

''We will definitely be seeking their return, and we are cooperating with Interpol to secure their return.''

Reportedly, the Gadhafi clan were carried in a convoy of six armored Mercedes limousines which started out from the town of Bani Walid in northwestern Libya which is controlled by the Warfallah tribe and where Gadhafi loyalists are believed to still exist.

The caravan of cars drove south to the town of Sebha and then moved west towards Algeria (a very wide swath of territory).

The Gadhafis then reportedly made the crossing at Tinkarine, a remore border post in the south-east of Algeria. From there they were taken to the town of Djanet, where Aisha gave birth to a baby girl in a hospital.

Gamaty added that NTC now believes Moammar Gadhafi himself is in Bani Walid.

''He probably thought Bani Walid was a stronger place to be… as it belongs to the Warfallah, the largest tribe in Libya,'' he said.

El Watan, an Algerian newspaper, reported that Algerian troops were then ordered to close off the southern border after the crossing.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic standoff is brewing between NTC and the government of Algiers, which has shown no indication that it will return the Gadhafis back to Libya.

Algeria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehidi, told western media his government accepted the Gadhafi family on “humanitarian grounds.”

Benmehidi also claimed that none of the Gadhafi relatives are subject to UN Security Council sanctions against Libya.