Libya's interim leader, on Tuesday, gave forces loyal to deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi, a four-day deadline to surrender towns still under their control or face military action.
As the hunt for Gaddafi goes on, the Libyan officials accused neighbouring Algeria of an act of aggression for admitting fleeing of Gaddafi's family. Algeria's foreign ministry said Gaddafi's wife Safia, his daughter Aisha and sons Hannibal and Mohammed had entered Algeria on Monday with their children. Algeria had given the family members "a pass" to enter a third country, the Libyan rebel leadership said.
"Algeria said they gave a pass to go to a third country. We cannot confirm that but they said they welcome them [to Algeria] for humanitarian reasons," rebel spokesman Mahmud Shammam said. He said the rebel leadership did not understand how anyone could "save Gaddafi's family" and wanted them back in Libya.
This has stirred a diplomatic row just as Libya's interim council works to consolidate its authority and capture places still loyal to Gaddafi, notably the coastal city of Sirte.
"By Saturday, if there are no peaceful indications for implementing this we will decide this manner militarily. We do not wish to do so but cannot wait longer," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of interim council said.
Anti-Gaddafi forces have converged on Sirte from east and west, but have stopped short of an all-out assault in hopes of arranging a negotiated surrender of Gaddafi's birthplace.
Gaddafi has been on the run since his foes captured his Tripoli compound on August 23 and his 42-year-old rule collapsed after a six-month uprising backed by Nato and some Arab states. A spokesman for the National Transitional Council said it would seek to extradite Gaddafi's family from Algeria. Meanwhile, Aisha gave birth to a girl late on Tuesday, a source close to Algeria's health ministry said.
Gaddafi left Tripoli on Friday: Bodyguard
Gaddafi is reported to have been in the Tripoli as late as last Friday and has left from there to the southern desert town of Sabha, Britain's Sky News said, quoting a 17-year-old bodyguard of his son Khamis.
Sky quoted the unnamed captured bodyguard as saying "Gaddafi held a meeting with Khamis at around 1.30pm on Friday in a Tripoli compound".
Gaddafi had arrived there in a saloon car and was also joined shortly afterwards by his daughter Aisha. "They had a short meeting, the boy says. He wasn't close to them but he could see them very clearly," said Sky reporter Stuart Ramsay.