Agadez, Nige – A convoy of Libyan military vehicles carrying troops loyal to ousted leader Moammar Kadafi arrived late Monday in this desert town in central Niger, one of Libya’s southern neighbors, military sources said.
The convoy of between 200 and 250 Libyan military vehicles included officers from Libya’s southern army battalions, said the French and Nigerien sources. It probably crossed from Libya into Algeria before entering Niger, they said.
It was not immediately clear whether the convoy included any members of Kadafi’s family or other high-level members of his government.
The French military source said he had been told Kadafi and his son and onetime heir apparent, Seif Islam, might be considering joining the convoy en route to Burkina Faso, a country bordering Niger on the southwest that has offered Kadafi asylum.
The owner of a private newspaper in Agadez said in a telephone interview that the convoy was accompanied by Tuareg tribal fighters. He described it as being substantially smaller — several dozen pickup trucks.
Abdoulaye Harouna of the Agadez Info newspaper said that at the head of the convoy was Tuareg rebel leader Rhissa ag Boula, a native of Niger and a former minister of tourism. A decade ago, Boula led a war of independence for Niger’s ethnic Tuaregs before seeking refuge in Libya.
Harouna said the pro-Kadafi troops accompanying Boula were well armed.
Moammar Kadafi is known to have used Tuareg fighters, and he is believed to have financed their rebellion. Kadafi remains popular in towns like Agadez, where a majority of the population is Tuareg.
Kadafi’s wife, daughter and two of his sons recently sought refuge in Algeria.