Gaddafi Reported Killed
Ousted despot Muammar Gaddafi was killed overnight in a final assault by new regime forces on his hometown Sirte, ending the last vestiges of his 42-year autocratic rule and sparking joy across Libya. "We announce to the world that Gaddafi has died in the custody of the revolution,'' National Transitional Council (NTC) spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga said in the eastern city of Benghazi. "It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Gaddafi has met his fate,'' he added. He said the toppled dictator's death had been "confirmed by our commanders on the ground in Sirte, those who captured him after he had been wounded in the battle for Sirte.'' In Tripoli, interim premier Mahmud Jibril told reporters that NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil was to declare by Friday that the country has been liberated and also give details on Gaddafi's killing. As Libyans poured out on to the streets, firing automatic weapons into the air and dancing for joy, world leaders welcomed Gaddafi's demise as the end of despotism, tyranny, dictatorship and ultimately war in the north African state. NTC fighters who had fought in the bloody eight-month conflict that in August toppled the veteran despot at a cost of more than 25,000 lives, erupted in jubilation at the news of his death, which followed earlier reports that Gaddafi had been captured alive. Photos surface of his last moments A photograph taken by a fighter on a mobile phone showed the 69-year-old Gaddafi heavily bloodied. In the blurry image, Gaddafi is seen with blood-soaked clothing and blood daubed across his face. A videotape aired on Arab satellite channels later showed a bloodied Gaddafi alive and walking as he was being manhandled by Libya's new regime fighters after his capture. NTC fighters circled the 69-year-old ousted strongman, who was bloodied in the head, face and shoulders, as he apparently tried to cry out. One fighter appeared to hold a gun to his head but it was unclear if he fired before Gaddafi was hauled onto the front of a vehicle, amid chaotic scenes in the video broadcast on Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera television channels. Another video that circulated among the NATO-backed NTC fighters in Sirte showed mobile phone footage of what appeared to be Gaddafi's bloodied corpse. In the grainy images, a large number of NTC fighters are seen yelling in chaotic scenes around a khaki-clad body which has blood oozing from the face and neck. Gaddafi's son dead An NTC commander said one of Gaddafi's sons, Mutassim, was also killed in Sirte. "We found him dead. We put his body and that of (former defence minister) Abu Bakr Yunis Jabar in an ambulance to take them to Misrata,'' said Mohamed Leith. The NTC's Jibril said that another of Gaddafi's sons, Seif al-Islam, was believed to be pinned down in a village near Sirte. "There is fighting going on in Wadi al-Ather,'' he said. "The revolutionaries have attacked an armed convoy. We suspect that Seif might be in the convoy,'' he said, referring to the last remaining top figure in Gaddafi's regime. Seif al-Islam has had charges of crimes against humanity filed against him by the International Criminal Court, which yesterday urged him to give himself up and "face justice.'' Last of Gaddafi loyalists overrun News of Gaddafi's death came as new regime troops overran the last redoubt of his loyalists in Sirte, bringing to an end a two-month siege. Fighters moving in from east and west overcame the last resistance in the city's Number Two residential neighbourhood where his diehard supporters had been holed up. "Sirte has been liberated, and with the confirmation that Gaddafi is dead,'' Libya has been completely liberated, a top NTC military official, Khalifa Haftar, told AFP in Tripoli. "Those who were fighting with Kadhafi have either been killed or captured,'' he added. Pick-up trucks blaring out patriotic music criss-crossed the streets of Sirte as fighters flashed V for victory signs and chanted "Allahu Akbar'' (God is greatest). "We did it! We did it!'' chanted the fighters overcome with emotion, exchanging well-wishes, hugs and handshakes against a backdrop of intense celebratory gunfire. "We finished Gaddafi and his people,'' said fighter Ali Urfulli. "We have taken revenge. Let him go to hell.'' In Brussels, a NATO spokesman said two alliance aircraft yesterday struck two pro-Gaddafi military vehicles near Sirte, amid speculation the fugitive leader was wounded in the air strike and died soon afterwards. The Pentagon, however, said there was no indication Gaddafi was in the convoy. "We know there was an air strike on a small convoy of vehicles that were deemed to be and in the act of threatening Libyan civilians'' outside of Sirte, spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters in Washington. "But there's no indication or identification of the people that were in that convoy,'' said Kirby. World reaction World leaders began to weigh in on the death of the man who had ruled the oil-rich nation. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Gaddafi's death was an occasion to remember his victims, while hailing it as a chance for a "democratic future'' for Libya. "I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi's victims'' including those who died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, Cameron said in a statement outside his office. French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Gaddafi's death and urged the country's new regime to pursue democratic reforms. "The disappearance of Muammar Gaddafi is a major step forward in the battle fought for more than eight months by the Libyan people to liberate themselves from the dictatorial and violent regime imposed on them for more than 40 years,'' Sarkozy said in a statement. French and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against Kadhafi's military by the NATO military alliance, which has launched nearly 1,000 strike sorties since March 31. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Kadhafi's death ushered in a "historic transition'' for Libya. "The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together,'' he said at the UN headquarters. In Islamabad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the reports of Gaddafi's death gave hope that Libya can move ahead from its troubled past. "If the reports are true, I think it offers a new opportunity for Libya to move forward to the future,'' Clinton said. Medics said that at least three NTC fighters were killed and 30 wounded in Thursday's fighting in Sirte after 18 were killed and around 180 wounded over the previous two days. Fifty pro-Kadhafi fighters were killed and 150 taken prisoner, including three women, said NTC commander Leith. There was no independent confirmation of the toll.