SIRTE, Libya - Muammar Gaddafi was killed by Libyans he once scorned as
"rats", succumbing to wounds, some seemingly inflicted after his capture
by fighters who overran his last redoubt on Thursday in his hometown of
Two months after Western-backed rebels ended 42 years of
eccentric, often bloody, one-man rule by capturing the capital Tripoli,
his death and the fall of the final bastion ended a nervous hiatus for
the new interim government, which is now set to declare formal
"liberation" with a timetable for elections.
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killing or capture of senior aides, including possibly two sons, as an armored convoy braved NATO air strikes in a desperate bid to break out
of Sirte, may ease fears of diehards regrouping elsewhere - though
cellphone video apparently of Gaddafi alive and being beaten may inflame
A Libyan official said Gaddafi, 69, was killed in custody.
confirm that all the evils, plus Gaddafi, have vanished from this
beloved country," interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said in Tripoli
as the body was delivered, a prize of war, to Misrata, the city whose
siege and suffering at the hands of Gaddafi's forces made it a symbol of
the rebel cause.
"It's time to start a new Libya, a united
Libya," Jibril added. "One people, one future." A formal declaration of
liberation, that will set the clock ticking on a timeline to elections,
would be made by Friday, he said.Doctor examination finds that Gaddafi was shot in the head
spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi,
Jalal al-Galal, said a doctor who examined the fallen strongman in
Misrata found he had been shot in the head and abdomen. Jerky video
shown on Al Jazeera showed a man looking like Gaddafi, with distinctive
long, curly hair, blooded and staggering under blows from armed men,
apparently NTC fighters.
"They captured him alive and while he
was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed," one senior
source in the NTC told Reuters. "He might have been resisting."
in an ambulance from Sirte, his partially stripped body was delivered
to a mosque in Misrata. Senior NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta told
Reuters that DNA tests were being conducted to confirm it was Gaddafi.
He would be buried in Misrata, most likely by Friday according to Muslim
Officials said his son Mo'tassim, also seen bleeding but
alive in a video, had also died. Another son, heir-apparent Saif
al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as
conflicting accounts of the day's events crackled around networks of
NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.
In Benghazi, where in February
Gaddafi disdainfully said he would hunt down the "rats" who had emulated
their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors by rising up against an unloved
autocrat, thousands took to the streets, loosing off weapons and dancing
under the old tricolor flag revived by Gaddafi's opponents.
el Ferjani, 49, a Benghazi bank clerk and father of five posed his
9-year-old son for a photograph holding a Kalashnikov rifle: "Don't
think I will give this gun to my son," he said. "Now that the war is
over we must give up our weapons and the children must go to school."
Gaddafi was a terrible dictator and this was the only way to get rid of
him. We want everything people have in free countries - want people to
live in peace as you do across the Mediterranean where life doesn't
require the machine-gun."
In Sirte, a one-time fishing village
and Gaddafi's home town that Gaddafi's grandiose schemes had styled a
new "capital of Africa" for the "king of kings", fighters whooped with
delight and some brandished a golden pistol they said they had taken
Accounts were hazy of his final hours, though there
was no shortage of fighters willing to claim they saw Gaddafi, who had
long pledged to go down fighting, cringing underground, like Saddam
eight years ago, and pleading for his life.
Gaddafi's final hours
possible description, pieced together from various sources, suggests
Gaddafi tried to break out of his final redoubt at dawn in a convoy of
vehicles after weeks of dogged resistance. However, he was stopped by a
French air strike and captured, possibly some hours later, after gun
battles with NTC fighters who found him hiding in a drainage culvert.
said its warplanes fired on a convoy near Sirte about 8:30 a.m. (0630
GMT), striking two military vehicles in the group, but could not confirm
that Gaddafi had been a passenger. France later said its jets had been
in action at the time.
Libyan television carried video of two
drainage pipes, about a meter across, where it said fighters had
cornered a man who long inspired both fear and admiration around the
After February's uprising in the long discontented east of
the country around Benghazi -- inspired by the Arab Spring movements
that overthrew the leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt -- the
revolt against Gaddafi ground slowly across the country before a
dramatic turn saw Tripoli fall in August.NTC to announce final liberation
announcement of final liberation was expected as the chairman of the
NTC prepared to address the nation of six million. They now face the
challenge of turning oil wealth once monopolised by Gaddafi and his clan
into a democracy that can heal an array of tribal, ethnic and regional
divisions he exploited.
The two months since the fall of Tripoli
have tested the nerves of the motley alliance of anti-Gaddafi forces and
their Western and Arab backers, who had begun to question the ability
of the NTC forces to root out diehard Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte and a
couple of other towns.
Gaddafi, wanted by the International
Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians, was
toppled by rebel forces on Aug. 23, a week short of the 42nd anniversary
of the military coup which brought him to power in 1969.
of NTC troops had surrounded the Mediterranean coastal town of Sirte
for weeks in a chaotic struggle that killed and wounded scores of the
besieging forces and an unknown number of defenders.
now this massive expectation. Up to now they've had an excuse that they
are running a war. They don't have that now ... Everything now has got
to happen," John Hamilton, a Libya expert at Cross Border Information,
"That's a hard task. They have to deliver for the people ... On the
other hand, this may renew the honeymoon they enjoyed when Tripoli fell,
if they can put a decent government together in a short time."
Some fear instability may linger and unsettle that process.
"Gaddafi is now a martyr and thus can become the rallying point for
irredentist or tribal violence - perhaps not in the immediate future but
in the medium-to-long term," said George Joffe, a north Africa expert
at Cambridge University.
"The fact that NATO can be blamed for his death is worrying, in terms of
regional support, and may undermine the legitimacy of the National
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