A convoy of between 200 and 250 Libyan army vehicles has crossed the desert frontier into Niger in what may be a secretly negotiated bid by Muammar Qadhafi to seek refuge in a friendly African state, military sources from France and Niger told Reuters on Tuesday.
The convoy was given an escort by the army of Niger, a poor former French colony to the south of Libya. It might, according to a French military source, be joined by Qadhafi en route for neighboring Burkina Faso, which has offered him asylum. It was not clear where Qadhafi was. He has broadcast defiance since being forced into hiding two weeks ago, and has vowed to die fighting on Libyan soil. His son Saif al-Islam, heir apparent before the uprising, also was considering joining the convoy, the French source added. Such a large Libyan military convoy could hardly have moved safely without the knowledge and agreement of NATO air forces. Sources told Reuters that France may have brokered an arrangement between the new Libyan government and Qadhafi.