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As rebels close in on Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold, it is unclear whether the despot is even in Tripoli anymore
As rebels look likely to take Tripoli, it is unclear whether the despot Muammar al-Gaddafi is in his compound, with unconfirmed reports he has fled Libya for neighboring Algeria.
Two planes were reportedly waiting on the runway at Tripoli’s airport to carry off Gaddafi to places unknown, according to Al Jazeera.
The Daily Beast runs through a laundry list of possible destinations, including: Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, or South Africa ("Believe it or not, Nelson Mandela is an old friend of Gaddafi’s").
While the Washington Post offers Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, or Equatorial Guinea as possible destinations.
Agence France-Presse, meantime, reported an unnamed diplomat as claiming that Gaddafi was still in Tripoli and "could be" in his compound in Tripoli, which has been heavily bombed by NATO.
Fierce fighting continues around his compound after rebel forces swept into the capital virtually unopposed.
Mahmud Nacua, a rebel spokesman, told reporters in London that he thought Gaddafi was still in Libya, and that rebel fighters would search for him and arrest him and put him in court, Dow Jones newswires reports.
While both his sons appear to have been captured by rebel forces in the final stages of the fierce six-month civil war, Gaddafi has been more elusive.
He last spoke on public television on Sunday, when he urged loyalists to not give up the fight, but it was unclear where he was.
Despite international condemnation, he has vowed to fight to the death and will not relinquish power.
(GlobalPost reports: World urges al-Gaddafi to surrender)
"Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement issued as he took a vacation on the resort of Martha's Vineyard.
A rebel spokesman in London was reported to have claimed that the eccentric despot could perhaps have fled to neighboring Algeria, but this could not be confirmed, the Guardian reports.
(Globalpost reports: Journalists trapped in Tripoli hotel).
Back in February, just after the fall of Benghazi, the foreign secretary, William Hague, claimed Gaddafi was on his way to Venezuela, a staunch supporter of his, but this proved to be incorrect after Gaddafi was broadcast on television speaking from a car, holding up an umbrella.
"I want to show that I'm in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," he said. "Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs", he said.
Saif Al-Islam, Gaddafi's debonair heir apparent, who is wanted by the international criminal court (ICC) along with his father for crimes against humanity, was captured on Sunday.
Gaddafi's eldest son, Muhammad, also appeared to have been cornered as he was shown on al-Jazeera television saying his house had been surrounded by armed forces, the Guardian reports.
"They have guaranteed my safety. I have always wanted good for all Libyans and was always on the side of God," he said during the interview, which ended abruptly when Muhammad, the head of Libyan telecommunications, said rebels had entered his house and the line went dead.
A rebel spokesman confirmed to Reuters that he had surrendered.
The Guardian also reports that Saadi Gaddafi, a footballer, had also been arrested by the rebels, but this could not be confirmed.
Guma el-Gamaty, the London-based co-ordinator for the rebel National Transitional Council, said he believed Gaddafi's other sons — he has seven — were either hiding or had fled. The whereabouts of his daughter, Aisha, also remains unknown, it says.