A large, armed convoy believed to be carrying Col. Muammar Gaddafi, as well as large amount of gold and cash, has entered Niger. However, TV reports in the region have reported that Gaddafi was not inside.
Reports around the world say that Gaddafi was attempting to go through Niger in order to get to Burkina Faso, which has offered asylum to the fallen dictator. However, Nigerian TV station Al-Arabiya said Niger's Foreign Minister Bazoum Mohamed, although no interview was aired, according to Reuters.
His spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said that Gaddafi, "is in a place that will not be reached by those fractious groups, and he is in Libya," Al-Jazeera reported.
Conflicting reports abound regarding Gaddafi’s presence on the convoy as well as the size and strength of the convoy.
Multiple news agencies have said the convoy contained between 200 and 250 armed vehicles and was being protected by Tuareg tribesmen, who have been fighting for Gaddafi in Libya. Reports also say the convoy is on its way to the Nigerian desert town of Agadez and is carrying several Libyan military officers.
However, the Nigerian government has said the convoy is much smaller and unarmed.
According to the New York Times, Marou Amadou, Niger’s minister of justice, said in a telephone interview that the group entering Niger was a “small convoy” of unarmed people and that it was allowed entry for purely humanitarian reasons.
The convoy comes amidst reports that the NTC had been on the verge of negotiating deals with many Gaddafi loyalists who are believed to be holing up in Bani Walid, about 100 miles southeast of Tripoli.
"We don't have a deal yet, but we are very optimistic and very confident that the tribal leaders of Bani Walid will persuade Gaddafi loyalists and forces to drop their weapons and resolve this peacefully,” Abdallah Kenshil, chief negotiator for Libya's NTC, told CNN.
Kenshil also said that the NTC believed Gaddafi’s son, Saim, was aboard one of the convoys that entered Niger.