As Libya's new leaders try to overcome resistance in Bani Walid, Reuters is reporting that Muammar Qaddafi has left the desert town and is "heading further south, with the help of loyalist tribes, toward Chad or Niger." Hisham Buhagiar, who is coordinating efforts to find the former Libyan leader, tells the news agency that Qaddafi's "last tracks" indicate that he was near the southern village of Ghwat three days ago, traveling in a convoy of around 10 cars and using a tent as shelter. Meanwhile, Anis Sharif, a spokesman for Tripoli's new military council, tells the AP that sophisticated technology and human intelligence suggest that Qaddafi is still somewhere in Libya, surrounded by rebels within a 40-mile radius. "He can't get out," Sharif asserted, without specifying where exactly Qaddafi is trapped.
Tracking Qaddafi's movements--or rumored movements, to be more precise--since the rebels seized Tripoli has been a bewildering task--a crash course in North African geography. The Google Map below shows Qaddafi's alleged locations over the last couple of weeks along with some background in captions. Left to right along the coast, the cities designated are Tripoli, Bani Walid, and Sirte. The city in the middle of the country is Sabha, while the southwestern location is Ghat (we're assuming this is the Ghwat mentioned in yesterday's Reuters report). The city of Agadez in Niger is also highlighted. We'll update this map as new reports emerge about Qaddafi's whereabouts, and please let us know if we're missing any locations.
View Muammar Qaddafi's Whereabouts in a larger map
In the days immediately following the storming of the capital, opposition officials claimed to be encircling Qaddafi in the coastal city of Sirte and in and around Tripoli (hearing chickens squawking in the background of a Qaddafi audio message, The Telegraph speculated that Qaddafi might indeed be on a farm outside Tripoli, as one rebel spokesman had claimed). A Qaddafi family bodyguard later declared that the fugitive ruler had escaped to the southern desert town of Sabha, only for rebel leaders to claim he was cornered in Bani Walid a day later. On Tuesday, Reuters suggested that Qaddafi may have fled to the city of Agadez in Niger in an effort to ultimately seek asylum in Burkina Faso. On Wednesday, Russia's Ria Novosti wrote, "The majority of members of the Transitional National Council are confident that the deposed leader is still hiding out around his hometown of Sirte in a ramified network of catacombs." In this environment, some news outlets are hedging their bets. The rebels "believe Qaddafi may be in one of their three key targets: Sirte, Bani Walid ... or the southern city of Sabha," CBS wrote last week. Or, as Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell tweeted yesterday, "BREAKING: Gaddafi is either in Niger, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, South Africa, Bani Walid, Sirte, Tripoli, or a hole in the desert somewhere."