Burning Question

Where in the world is Moammar Gadhafi?

As Libyan rebels claim control of much of Tripoli, the whereabouts of the North African nation's longtime leader are unknown. Here, five theories

After months of grueling battles, Libya's rebels are closing in on Moammar Gadhafi's Tripoli compound. Three of the despot's sons have reportedly been captured, and President Obama declared Monday afternoon that Gadhafi's regime is "coming to an end." But Gadhafi himself has not been seen in public for months. Is he still in Tripoli, or has he fled Libya altogether? Here, five places the strongman may be hiding:

1. His Tripoli compoundAn anonymous diplomat reportedly says Gadhafi may still be lurking in the "rabbit-warren of tunnels and rooms" inside his Tripoli compound. Three of Gadhafi's sons have been arrested in the Libyan capital — suggesting he may still be there, too. And, for what it's worth, the Libyan leader vowed not to leave his country, calling on supporters to "spill their blood for him to the end," says Rick Gladstone in The New York Times.

2. A hotel in TripoliThe Rixos Hotel "has been a favored hideout of Gadhafi before," reports The Washington Post. The hotel is connected to an "intricate tunnel system," and in May, Gadhafi delivered an unexpected speech that appeared to come from inside the hotel, though journalists staying at the Rixos did not see him come or go. 

3. A hospital outside of TripoliAccording to Al Arabiya, Gadhafi is reportedly in the Tajura-Cardiac hospital just east of Tripoli. It's unclear whether Gadhafi would have entered the hospital seeking treatment, or merely refuge.

4. A neighboring countryAccording to Britain's Guardian, a rebel spokesman in London said that the toppled dictator may have fled to Algeria, which shares a border with Libya. Or he could have gone to Tunisia, another neighboring state. Gadhafi's prime minister is already in Tunisia, the Post reports. And "this morning, press photographers gathered at airports in the country after it was reported that Gadhafi hoped to send his wife and daughter into exile there. So far, no luck."

5. South AfricaThere have been rumors that South Africa's foreign ministry sent a plane to Tripoli to fetch the colonel and his family, but the country's foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has issued a denial, saying the plane was sent to evacuate South Africa's embassy staff. "I am amazed at any insinuation of South Africa aiding anyone," Nkoana-Mashabane said. "We know for sure he will not come here."

Sources: Al Arabiya, Guardian, New York Times, NPR, Washington Post

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