Libya: Moammar Gadhafi convoy enters Niger capital


A large convoy of his soldiers has apparently deserted, crossing the Libyan Desert into neighboring Niger on Tuesday.

It wasn't clear if Gadhafi family members were in the convoys but al-Arabiya television quoted Niger's Foreign Minister Bazoum Mohamed as saying Gadhafi himself was not present.

Gadhafi is believed to have financed the Tuareg rebellion in the north of Niger. African nations where Tuaregs represent a significant slice of the population, like Niger, have been among the last to recognize the rebels that ousted Gadhafi.

Meanwhile, a rebel negotiator says tribal elders in a Gadhafi stronghold are trying to persuade regime loyalists to lay down their arms.

The elders left the besieged town of Bani Walid to meet with rebels in a tiny mosque about 40 miles away.

"The revolutionaries have not come to humiliate anyone. We are all here to listen," Abdullah Kenshil, the chief rebel negotiator, said at the start of the meeting. "I say we are not like the old regime. We don't take revenge and we don't bear grudges."

Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown, but speculation has centered on his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha in the far south.

Gadhafi's spokesman remains defiant. He told Syrian TV that the former dictator is "in excellent health, planning and organizing for the defense of Libya."

Meantime, Gadhafi's former compound in Tripoli is now a tourist attraction. People walk freely through the building and even its many tunnels leading to the outside.

Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for more than 40 years, has been on the run since losing control of his capital, Tripoli, last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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