This morning, Algerian diplomat Mourad Benmehidi confirmed that Muammar Qaddafi's second wife and three of his children had been granted entry into Algeria on "humanitarian grounds," telling The New York Times that Qaddafi's daughter Aisha, and two of his sons, Mohammed and Hannibal, had brought along their spouses and children and entered Algeria through a southern Sahara crossing in a Mercedes and a bus. Now The Guardian, citing opposition official Guma al-Gamaty, has come up with new details about the escape, reporting that the Qaddafi family departed from the town of Bani Walid, where remnants of the regime remain, in six armored limousines (the convoy was spotted over the weekend, but Algeria initially denied its existence). Gamaty claims the motorcade carried 32 Qaddafi family members and idled at a remote border post in southeast Algeria for 10 to 12 hours while the Algerian government tried to figure out what to do. "It was the Algerian president himself who authorized their entry," Gamaty asserts. Soon after, Algerian troops sealed the southern border and Aisha reportedly gave birth to a baby girl.
The Guardian points out that the escape took place while rebel forces were focusing in seizing Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte. But, even so, the new information doesn't make the opposition look good. "The fact that a conspicuous convoy of six armoured limousines could drive unmolested down the length of the country, from Bani Walid to the pro-Gaddafi bastion at Sebha, on the edge of the Sahara desert, and then west to the Algerian border, indicates that there is a wide swath of the central Libyan hinterland outside the [National Transitional Council's] grasp," the paper writes.