Thursday, October 20, 2011
Gadhafi - The Last Martyr
Gadhafi met his end here in these drainage pipes outside of Sirte
Captured alive, he was killed or died of injuries. A son was also reported captured alive and then killed while in captivity.
Hilary, who called for Gadhafi's death a few days previous, gets news on Blackberry.
Libyans in Ireland Celebrate
Libyans in Tripoli Celebrate in Martyr's Square
An aide has told of Muammar's Gaddafi's last stand in Sirte, writes Kareem Fahim in Misrata.
AFTER 42 years of absolute power in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi spent his last days hovering between defiance, anger and delusion, surviving on rice and pasta his guards scrounged from the emptied houses he moved between every few days, says an aide captured with him.
Under siege by the former rebels for weeks, Colonel Gaddafi grew impatient with life on the run in the city of Sirte, the aide, Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, the leader of a network of loyalist volunteers and informants, said. ''He would say: 'Why is there no electricity? Why is there no water?'''
Mr Dhao, who stayed close to Colonel Gaddafi throughout the siege, said that he and other aides repeatedly counselled him to leave power or the country, but that Gaddafi and one of his sons, Muatassim, would not consider the option.
Although some of his supporters portrayed him as bellicose to the end, armed at the front lines, he actually did not take part in the fighting, Mr Dhao said, instead preferring to read or make calls on his satellite phone.
Mr Dhao, who knew Colonel Gaddafi for decades and became a member of his trusted inner circle, spoke in a conference room that served as his cell.
Colonel Gaddafi fled to Sirte in a small convoy on the day that Tripoli fell.
''He was very afraid of NATO,'' said Mr Dhao, who joined him about a week later.
The decision to stay in Sirte had been Muatassim's, who reasoned that the city, long known as an important pro-Gaddafi stronghold and under frequent bombardment by NATO air strikes, was the last place anyone would look.
Apart from the phone, which Colonel Gaddafi used to make frequent statements to a Syrian television station that became his official outlet, he was largely ''cut off from the world'', Mr Dhao said. He did not have a computer and, in any case, there was rarely any electricity.
Colonel Gaddafi, who was fond of framing the revolution as a religious war between devout Muslims and the rebel's Western backers, spent his time reading the Koran, Mr Dhao said. He refused to hear pleas to give up power. He would say, according to Mr Dhao: ''This is my country. I handed over power in 1977,'' referring to his oft-repeated assertion that power was actually in the hands of the Libyan people.
''We tried for a time, and then the door was shut,'' Mr Dhao said.
For weeks, the rebels fired heavy weapons indiscriminately at the city.
''Random shelling was everywhere,''he said, adding that a rocket or a mortar shell struck one of the houses where Colonel Gaddafi was staying, injuring some of his guards.
A chef who was travelling with the group was also hurt, so everyone started cooking, Mr Dhao said.
About two weeks ago, as the rebels stormed the city centre, Colonel Gaddafi and his sons were trapped in two houses in a residential area called District No.2. Colonel Gaddafi decided it was time to leave and planned to flee to one of his houses nearby, where he had been born.
On Thursday, a convoy of dozens of cars was supposed to leave at about 3am, but disorganisation by the loyalist volunteers delayed the departure until 8am.
In daylight, the NATO warplanes and rebel fighters found them half an hour after they left.
By Ben Farmer, Sirte
8:23PM BST 22 Oct 2011
Utterly ravaged by months of bombardments, Sirte was a skeleton of a city – a place without food, water or light; a city without citizens. Its streets were turned into rivers by burst pipes, as fighters battled through waist-high swathes of mud brown water, street by bloody street.
But as the sun rose over the shell of Sirte on Thursday, it was immediately apparent that something had changed.
The suburb of Zafran in anticipation of another massed assault into District Two – the final pocket where Gaddafi loyalists had been holding out. Rebels from Misurata had told me the day before to be ready early to witness a home-made armoured battering ram, and their few tanks spearhead what they boasted would be a decisive thrust into the remaining bastion of defenders.
Little did we know, at that point, that Gaddafi had also decided that it was time for the endgame.
The embattled leader had been forced to retreat to an area 1000 yards by 500 yards, and was desperately moving from house to house, trying to evade capture.
Seeing the noose tighten to strangulation point, he had ordered his men on Wednesday night to pack a convoy of 75 vehicles in preparation for a move towards Wadi Jarif, 25 miles away.
"We decided to leave Sirte and go to Jarif because it had become unsafe," said Mansour Daou, Gaddafi's cousin and bodyguard. The Colonel, he said, was "tense, but not afraid".
But Gaddafi, like us, was unaware of the chain reaction which he had sparked by making that dash for freedom.
More than 6,000 miles away, deep in the lunar landscape of the Nevada desert, American specialists trained to their computer screens spotted unusual activity at around 7.30am in District Two. From their windowless bunker, lit by constantly flickering computer screens, the analysts directed their unmanned Predator drones to zoom in on the convoy as it picked up speed and headed west. Nato's eyes were suddenly trained on Gaddafi's convoy.
Yet at that moment, I was ignorant of that, and caught up in the midst of a chaotic scene at the crossroads by a scarred television station building, which was the planned launch point for the offensive into District Two.
The battle was taking an unexpected turn. At 8am the air was thick with the crackle of bullets and shots were hitting the street corner – from directions which had been cleared of loyalists for days. In the street beside the TV station – which should have been protected from loyalist marksmen toward the east – fighters were running bent double and crouching in the doorways of burnt-out houses as they tried to assess who was shooting at them.
"The plan has changed. Some loyalists have broken out overnight," one young fighter told me hurriedly.
"They have got around the back of us."
Unknown to us then – and what would not become clear for hours afterwards – was that among those who had broken out a few hundred yards from us was none other than Col Muammar Gaddafi. The confusion I was witnessing was not another small skirmish, but the final chaotic moments of the Libyan despot's rule.
He and his inner circle had tried to punch westward out of the shattered city into open countryside in a column of vehicles.
But it was a gamble that ultimately would not allow him to escape the fate suffered by so many of his opponents during his 42 years of rule.
High above Sirte the heavily-armed American USMQ1 Predator drones, which are piloted by satellite link and can provide surveillance or fire missiles in all weather, day and night, had been circling.
The aircraft, which can remain "on station" for up to 18 hours, were being remotely flown from Creech air force base in Nevada. One of the predator pilots had now received permission to attack the fleeing convoy.
Around 40 miles off the Libyan coast a Nato AWAC early-warning surveillance aircraft, flying over the Mediterranean, took control of the battle and warned two French jets that a loyalist convoy was attempting to leave Sirte.
As the convoy sped west, a Hellfire missile was fired from the Predator and destroyed the first vehicle in the convoy.
By now, the NTC troops had realised that the loyalists were escaping and a small number of lightly armed rebels began to give chase.
To me it seemed like a wild, chaotic situation. But we now know that it had, in fact, been foreseen by the British SAS and their special forces allies, who were advising the NTC forces.
British military sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that small teams of SAS soldiers on the ground in Sirte, armed but under strict orders not to get involved, had warned them throughout the siege to be alert to the fleeing of loyalists.
Assisted by other special forces – in particular the Qataris, with whom the SAS have a long relationship dating back 20 years – the SAS tried to impress on the Libyans the need to cover all escape routes.
But despite the advice, the breakout seems to have taken the rebels on the Zafran front completely by surprise.
In the previous two weeks I had repeatedly seen the militiamen fail to hold forward positions at night as they fell back to their encampments. Again and again loyalists had used cover of darkness to surprise the militiamen and manoeuvre into new firing positions.
Once more their surveillance was lax, and one rebel fighter confessed to me that in the early hours of Thursday they had failed to keep proper watch on the western front and they were surprised by the convoy.
A Gaddafi loyalist, Jibril Abu Shnaf, who had travelled in the convoy and was later captured, told how they took advantage of this lack of co-ordination.
"I was cooking for the other guys, when all of a sudden they came in and said: 'Come on, we're leaving,'" he explained.
"I got in a civilian car and joined the end of the convoy. We tried to escape along the coast road. But we came under heavy fire, so we tried another way."
The second attempt proved successful and the convoy left the demolished houses of Sirte, firing at rebel positions as it sped into the surrounding farmland.
A senior defence source has told The Sunday Telegraph that at this point the SAS urged the NTC leaders to move their troops to exits points across the city and close their stranglehold.
After the Hellfire missile struck its target, the convoy changed direction, possibly hoping to avoid a further strike, before heading west again. It had begun to fracture into several different groups of vehicles.
The French jets were also given permission to join the attack.
By now a group of 20 vehicles in the convoy had reached a point around three miles west of the city. The shattered streets had been left behind, and the convoy had halted next to a walled electricity sub station, in arid farmland dotted with breeze block compounds and trees.
Just then, the French pilot began his bombing run, seconds later releasing two 500lb GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, into the centre of the convoy.
The bombs unleashed massive force. Arriving at the site, a few hours later, their devastating power was clear to see: at least a dozen vehicles were shredded and burned out, while I counted more than 25 bodies, some lying twisted and charred inside the vehicles and others lying in clumps nearby.
The air strike marked the end of any attempt at an ordered retreat and the convoy's remnants scattered.
Mansour Daou, leader of Gaddafi's personal bodyguards, recounted the attack. He said that the survivors had "split into groups and each group went its own way".
The stragglers disappeared into the farmland, some taking refuge in buildings and others continuing to fire on approaching rebels and adding to the confusion.
Col Gaddafi had survived the air strike, but was apparently wounded in the legs. With his companions dead or dispersed, he now had few options.
He and a handful of men, perhaps including the defence minister Abu Bakr Younis, appeared to have made their way 300 yards north from the devastation and taken shelter in a drainage culvert running under a dual carriageway.
Here in concrete pipes just three feet across the final scene would be played out.
Members of the Al Watan revolutionary brigade who had been following the convoy at a distance witnessed the explosion, but at that point still had no idea who was in the vehicles.
Saleem Bakeer, a rebel fighter who said he was among those who came across Gaddafi hiding in the pipes said they had approached on foot.
"One of Gaddafi's men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me," he said.
"Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. 'My master is here, my master is here', he said, 'Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded'."
"We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying: 'What's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?'"
The initial astonishment appears to have quickly switched to jubilation, and then rage.
"I don't think that anyone thought he would be there, we all thought that he would be in the south, or maybe across in Niger or Algeria. We were as shocked as he was at first," said Abdullah Hakim Husseini, one of the band of men who found him. "We were so happy when we knew it was him. I thought, 'at last, it's all over'."
Mobile phone footage shows Col Gaddafi alive but weak and bloodied, with blows raining down on him from frenzied fighters. At one point he was hauled onto the bonnet of a pickup truck, then pulled down by his hair. His weighty golden gun, intricately engraved and decorated with the words "The sun will never set on the Al Fattah revolution", was snatched by one of the revolutionaries. His satellite phone was seized, and it was later discovered that he had made one last call to Syria.
Omran el Oweyb, the commander who captured Gaddafi, said that he only managed to stagger ten steps before he fell to the ground.
One rebel was heard screaming in his face: "This is for Misurata, you dog."
Gaddafi – confused, bloodied, stumbling – can be heard to reply, in what could be his last, laughably philosophical words: "Do you know right from wrong?"
What happened in the next minutes is the subject of intense controversy. Sometime in the next hours or minutes he died of a bullet wound to the left temple. The official NTC account says he was caught in crossfire as he was being driven to hospital. "He was already under arrest and he was hit in the crossfire," explained Mahmoud Jalil, the prime minister.
However the ambulance driver who ferried him said Col Gaddafi was already dead when he was loaded into the ambulance, around 500 yards from his point of capture.
One NTC member, who did not want to be named, admitted that this version of events was likely. "They beat him very harshly and then they killed him," he said. "This is a war."
By time I reached the site of his capture, around two hours after he was seized, the bodies of three of his companions still lay at the entrance to the drain.
It was an inglorious end. As I picked through the seafront ruined streets of District Two the following day, there was no sign of a command bunker or fortified compound where he had stayed and directed the defence.
Instead rebels wandering the streets where Col Gaddafi's loyalists had endured a storm of barrage said he had moved from house-to-house and basement to basement. He moved nightly, terrified of surveillance and air strikes from the Nato coalition planes and drones which had supported the rebels since March.
He had good reason for such precautions.
And the drain had already begun to take its place in Libyan history.
"This is the place where the rat Gaddafi was hiding," said one piece of graffiti sprayed onto the concrete.
Fighters flashing raising v-salutes, posed for photos alongside friends they had fought alongside for months.
"I have stopped counting how many friends I have lost. Too, too many," said Mohammad Bashir, a 32-year-old telecoms engineer from Tripoli.
"We never doubted it for a second, you know, though. These freedom fighters cannot be stopped. We were right and he was wrong."
By Rania El Gamal
MISRATA, Libya | Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:18pm EDT
(Reuters) - Libyan forces guarding Muammar Gaddafi's body in a cold storage room let in members of the public to view the deposed leader for a second day on Saturday, but the wounds that may hold the clue to how he died were covered up.
Gaddafi's body lay on a mattress on the floor of the cold room, as it did Friday when hundreds of members of the public filed in to see for themselves that the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was dead.
But unlike the previous day, Gaddafi's body was covered by a blanket that left only his head exposed, hiding the bruises on his torso and scratch marks on his chest that had earlier been visible.
And, crucially, a Reuters reporter who viewed the body said, Gaddafi's head had been turned to the left. That meant a bullet hole that earlier could be seen on the left side of his face, just in front of his ear, could no longer be seen.
Guards overseeing Gaddafi's body handed out green surgical masks to dozens of people filing in to take a look because of the stench of rotting flesh filling the room.
The bullet hole in Gaddafi's head, and the other wounds, could help solve the riddle of whether, as Libya's new rulers said, he was shot in crossfire in a battle or, as some accounts suggest, he was killed by the fighters who caught him.
A local military commander in the city of Misrata, where the forces which captured him took his body, said "over-enthusiastic" fighters took matters into their own hands when they came face to face with the man they despise.
"We wanted to keep him alive but the young guys, things went out of control," he said speaking on condition of anonymity.
Few people in Libya -- where thousands of people, including civilians, were killed by Gaddafi's forces in the seven-month rebellion -- say they are troubled by the manner of his death.
But if he was indeed killed by his captors, it will cast doubt on the promises by Libya's new rulers to respect human rights and prevent reprisals. It would also embarrass Western governments which gave their wholehearted backing to the NTC.
CAPTURED ALIVE, DEAD SHORTLY LATER
The dramatic minutes leading up to Gaddafi's death were chaotic, violent and gruesome -- as testified by the grainy mobile phone footage seen by the world of the former leader, bloodied and dazed, being dragged along by NTC fighters.
Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured hiding in a storm drain outside his hometown of Sirte, but he already had blood streaming down the side of his face and a wound close to his left ear very shortly after he had been seized.
Government fighters hauled him onto the bonnet of a Toyota pick-up truck with the intention, one of them said, of getting him through the crowd of fellow fighters and to an ambulance parked about 500 meters (546.8 yards) away.
Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying "God forbids this" several times as slaps from the crowd rain down on his head.
"This is for Misrata, you dog," said one man slapping him.
"Do you know right from wrong?" Gaddafi says.
"Shut up you dog," someone replies as more blows rain down.
Misrata, one of the heartlands of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, suffered months of siege and artillery bombardment at the hands of his forces.
Another video shows Gaddafi being heaved off the bonnet of the truck and dragged toward a car, then pulled down by his hair. "Keep him alive, keep him alive!" someone shouts.
Another man in the crowd lets out a high-pitched hysterical scream. Gaddafi then goes out of view and gunshots ring out. One of the fighters present said Gaddafi was in a bad way but alive when he was put in the ambulance.
Yet the ambulance driver, Ali Jaghdoun, said Gaddafi was dead when he picked him up and he then drove the body to the city of Misrata. "I didn't try to revive him because he was already dead," Jaghdoun said.
In other video footage obtained by Reuters a convoy of vehicles is seen speeding along a desert road, horns blaring and men shouting "We have Muammar! It's Muammar!."
In later footage the convoy slows to a halt. Fighters rush to an ambulance shouting that Gaddafi is dead. In the back of the vehicle a body lies with a bandage over a wound on its upper abdomen, matching the spot where a bullet hole was seen on Gaddafi's torso after the body was put on display in Misrata. The head is covered with a white sheet, but a man beside it raises it briefly affording a glimpse of the former ruler's face.
A young man appears beside the ambulance, a bearded man beside him shouts out:
"He's the killer. And I am the witness who saw him."
The young fighter exclaims excitedly:
"We found him in a hole. He had somebody with him inside it."
Grinning and brandishing a handgun, the man is feted and embraced by fighters.
"This is the guy who killed Gaddafi. Using this, you see," the man with the beard shouts, holding up the young man's hand in which he has a gun.
"He did it in front of me. I saw it in front of me."
The new footage does not make clear whether Gaddafi died of wounds sustained before he was put into the ambulance or whether he suffered wounds while in the vehicle.
A journalist at the scene confirmed Gaddafi had a head wound before he was put into the ambulance.
WOUNDS STITCHED UP
In the cold store in Misrata, the body of one of Gaddafi's sons, Mo'tassim, had been moved from another location elsewhere in Misrata and placed next to his dead father.
The circumstances leading to the death of Mo'tassim, his father's national security adviser who was also captured in Sirte, are similarly murky.
A Reuters reporter was shown a one-minute segment of mobile phone footage in which a man, who resembled Mo'tassim, was squatting in a room. He was stripped to the waist, and smoking a cigarette. He did not appear badly wounded.
Someone could be heard telling him repeatedly: "Say Allahu Akbar, say Allahu Akbar." The phrase, which means "God is greatest," is a favorite mantra of the anti-Gaddafi fighters.
At some point after that, he died. When a Reuters reporter saw his body Thursday evening, it was laid out in a private house in Misrata. Wounds to his jaw and part of his neck were visible.
Saturday in the cold store, Mo'tassim's body was covered up to the neck with a blanket. The wounds to his jaw and neck had been stitched up.
Later in the day, the body of a third man, Abu Bakr Younus Jabr, was brought in and placed on a stretcher between Gaddafi and his son.
Head of Gaddafi's armed forces, by then just a handful of troops, Jabr was captured in Sirte alongside his leader. A bandage was tied under his chin and looped over the top of his head.
Bullet wounds could be seen to his chest and the top of his left arm. A Reuters reporter who was able to get close to the body said she could see gunpowder residue around the wounds -- which is often consistent with being shot at close range.
The people queueing outside the cold store, waiting to view the bodies, did not seem concerned about how their former leader and his entourage died.
Two Filipino nurses filed in to take pictures. Children were among the few dozen people waiting outside for their turn.
Abdullah al-Senussi, a man with a white beard, was so frail he had to be supported by people on either side of him as he made his way to the cold store.
"We wanted to know if it was true or not," he said. "We wanted to see him."
Two men arrived waving airline tickets, saying they needed to jump the queue to see Gaddafi or they would miss their flights.
Asked if it would not have been better for Gaddafi to stand trial, Abdulatif, a pilot waiting in line, said: "What would he tell the mother whose children were killed or the girls who were raped?"
"If he lived and was killed a thousand times, that would still only be a trifle."
(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Matthew Jones)
By Mary Beth Sheridan, Saturday, October 22, 6:24 PM
BENGHAZI, Libya — The fighters who finished off the last of fallen leader Moammar Gaddafi’s forces returned to a hero’s welcome in the birthplace of the Libyan revolution on Saturday as thousands of flag-waving residents poured into the streets to cheer the convoy.
“God is great! God is great!” the crowd chanted as fighters in an assortment of green and blue camouflage rode on pickup trucks armed with machine guns and rocket launchers. The beaming troops, returning from the last holdout of Sirte, tossed candy to the crowd and flashed V-for-victory signs.
Libya’s interim government is expected toformally declare the war over and the country liberated on Sunday, eight months after anti-Gaddafi demonstrations erupted in Benghazi, triggering the first war of the Arab Spring.
International human rights groups have expressed alarm about indications that Gaddafi may have been killed in captivity by revolutionaries as Sirte fell Thursday. But no one at the parade here Saturday seemed disturbed by that possibility, recalling how the former leader jailed, tortured and killed thousands.
“We are very happy because Gaddafi was killed and humiliated,” said Mohanned Kaplan, 21, a geology student. Nearby, an ebullient group of young people chanted, “Too bad, nutcase!” referring to Gaddafi.
The crowd flanking the highway from Tripoli, 630 miles to the west, danced and ululated as the rusty pickups bearing the revolutionaries cruised through the streets. Many people solemnly saluted the returning fighters.
A giant red, green and black banner — the colors of the new Libyan flag — marked the spot where Gaddafi’s tanks were stopped at the city’s edge in March by the first NATO airstrike. Gaddafi had threatened to wipe out dissidents in the city.
As the parade proceeded, the air was filled with the pop of celebratory automatic-rifle fire and the boom of anti-aircraft and machine guns. Would the fighters voluntarily give up the weapons they had clearly come to cherish?
“Maybe some will not, but the majority, 95 percent, will certainly do so,” said Mahmoud Taher, 47, who had come out to enjoy the spectacle. “Libyans are not interested in weapons and fighting.”
Libyans in the crowd said they hoped their country would now enjoy things they could only dream about during the 42 years of virtual one-man rule by Gaddafi.
“It will be, like, modern, and open to the world,” Kaplan said. In the past, he said, “We couldn’t have trials.” Without being politically connected, he added, “we couldn’t set up companies.”
Faisal Gaddari, 29, a translator, said Gaddafi had discriminated against Benghazi, Libya’s second-biggest city.
“We didn’t have anything like new buildings. Everything he put in Sirte and Tripoli,” he said. “Now we hope with the new government, they will build all of Libya.”
Kaplan said most of those in the crowd had lost friends or relatives in the war. He had lost seven friends.
“When I remember this, I feel so, so, so, so sad,” he said. “But now, all Libyans are very happy — it’s extraordinary.”
In the past, Gaddari said, “if you say anything about Mr. Gaddafi, you will have big trouble.”
Now, he concluded, “We’re not afraid any more.”
Qaddafi's last moments
Muammar Qaddafi's final day most likely began as it ended: In a squeeze. He was almost surely in the 700-square-yard area of Sirte where Libya's ex-rebels had penned in the die-hard forces remaining loyal to him.
The transitional government had for some time speculated that Qaddafi was out wandering the desert, recruiting fighters for a counter-insurgency.
Therefore, at around 8 a.m., the ex-rebels where probably unaware that their ultimate target was actually within their grasp as they began an assault on that small final area. It was around that time that Qaddafi got in a convoy to flee, according to most accounts.
Somewhere just outside of the loyalist-held area, NATO aircraft struck Qaddafi's convoy, but didn't kill him. According to NATO officials, they were unaware Qaddafi was inside. That airstrike, however, hastened his demise.
The Telegraph's Ben Farmer visited the scene where Qaddafi's convoy was hit and the ex-dictator's final moments played out. He writes: "Colonel Gaddafi was finally cornered in a drain underneath a road in open countryside to the west of the city of Sirte. Rebels said a column of vehicles tried to punch out of an encirclement at dawn. They parked up around 3-4kms west of the town, which was hit by a NATO airstrike. Gaddafi and several bodyguards were then forced to take refuge in the drain where they were then captured and taken away by revolutionary forces."
An ex-rebel fighter named Mohammed, "a young fighter in his 20s wearing a blue t-shirt and a New York Yankees baseball cap," told the BBC he found Qaddafi hiding in the tiny drain pipe. The colonel allegedly looked up and said simply: "Don't shoot."
They didn't listen.
There are conflicting reports about how and at whose hands exactly Qaddafi died. It seems pretty certain he was alive when first captured. Al Jazeera aired video (below) of what is almost surely Qaddafi's final moments. The once-mighty ex-dictator is seen soaked in blood, apparently disoriented, either being led around by or restrained by ex-rebels, who brandish guns as they yell at him and tug his hair, and he appears to yell back. Still other video taken later of his body being dragged around show him covered in blood everywhere, seeming to be bleeding from the head and other places. Reuters reports Qaddafi died around noon and that an ex-rebel official said Qaddafidied after capture in a firefight between his supporters and his captors.
The Associated Press reports: "One fighter says after the convoy was hit, it turned back and re-entered a compound, which was then attacked by several hundred fighters. He says they found Qaddafi there, and someone shot him with a pistol. But a spokesman for a local military council says fighters had surrounded the convoy and exchanged fire, before finding Qaddafi in one vehicle, wounded in the neck. The spokesman says Qaddafi bled to death from his wounds a half-hour later. Fighters said he died in an ambulance on the way to Misrata."
Still, others report a different ending.
CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that some claim Qaddafi's own bodyguard shot him, in order to spare him the indignity of being captured.
An ex-rebel named Salem Bakeer told Reuters that he and his comrades gave chase to Qaddafi and his small retinue of bodyguards after they fled their convoy following the airstrike.
"At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use," said Bakeer. "Then we went in on foot. One of Qaddafi's men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me. Then I think Qaddafi must have told them to stop. 'My master is here, my master is here', he said, 'Muammar Qaddafi is here and he is wounded.' We went in and brought Qaddafi out. He was saying 'What's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?'. Then we took him and put him in the car."
At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.
"They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him," an ex-rebel told Reuters. "He might have been resisting."
Ex-rebel Adel Samir told the Telegraph that Qaddafi was gunned down with a 9mm pistol, shot in the stomach. Imad Moustaf, another ex-rebel fighter, told Global Post Qaddafi had been shot in the head and the heart. Still other reports claim he was shot in the both legs.
Sometime after Qaddafi was shot, freelance photojournalist Holly Pickett tweeted that she saw his body. Pickett says she was embedded with an ex-rebel ambulance, and spotted another ambulance packed with rebels speeding away from Sirte with Qaddafi's body.
"From the side door, I could see a bare chest with bullet wound and a bloody hand. He was wearing gold-colored pants," Pickett tweeted. "At every checkpoint between #Sirte and #Misrata, crowds had gathered and wanted to know if we were the ambulance with #Gaddafi's body in it. Upon hearing the truth, that Gaddafi was truly dead, revolutionaries at the checkpoints were beside themselves, shouting with joy."
However his final moments may have actually unfolded, the numerous images of his body have already made the rounds on cell phones, computers and TV screens all over the globe, leaving little doubt that Libya's 42 years of Qaddafi's oft-cruel "Jamahiriya" rule is over.
Also captured and killed Thursday was Qaddafi's flamboyant fifth son - also his National Security Adviser - Mutassim Qaddafi, whom Libyans had claimed a week earlier was already captured. An ex-rebel spokesman said Mutassim was killed "resisting his captors," Reuters reports.
Additionally, the BBC reports that ex-rebels captured his famed former security chief, Mansour Daw, who, it had been reported, fled to Niger.
(Below is a graphic video from first aired on Al Jazeera showing what is apparently Qaddafi's last moments alive, following his capture by rebels.)
(CBS News) WASHINGTON - French warplanes and a U.S. Predator drone on Thursday morning attacked a giant convoy of more than 100 four-wheel drive vehicles fleeing west out of Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports the convoy tried to evade the aircraft by splitting into smaller parts, but at least 15 of them were hit and their occupants killed. The vehicle, which turned out to be carrying Qaddafi, was damaged but not destroyed. Qaddafi and his bodyguards abandoned the vehicle and took cover in drainage pipes running under the highway where they were cornered by a band of anti-Qaddafi fighters.
"Don't shoot": Qaddafi's last moments
Photos: The death of Muammar Qaddafi
Already festooned with graffiti, it is where Qaddafi, who once lived in splendor, made his last stand. Who shot him is still a mystery. According to one account, it was his own bodyguards, one of whom can be seen lying dead on the ground -- presumably to spare him from being captured. Grandiose to the end, Qaddafi was armed with a golden pistol, which is now a prize trophy for rebels who eight months ago didn't stand a chance against one of the world's most repressive regimes.
As the gruesome video below shows, Qaddafi was taken alive and handled roughly. Whether he would have survived his wounds with better treatment is not known. One of his sons was also killed Thursday and another reported captured. With most of Qaddafi's inner circle either dead, captured or in exile, NATO -- after flying more than 26,000 missions -- can now end its bombing campaign. That could happen as soon as tomorrow although reconnaissance flights are likely to continue a while longer.
Now comes the hard part - establishing a democratic form of government in a country that has known nothing but Qaddafi for the past four decades.
Gaddafi's death - who pulled the trigger?
By Tim Gaynor and Taha Zargoun | Reuters –
SIRTE, Libya (Reuters) - Disturbing images of a blood-stained and shaken Muammar Gaddafi being jostled by angry fighters quickly circulated around the world after the Libyan dictator's dramatic death near his home town of Sirte.
The exact circumstances of his demise are still unclear with conflicting accounts of his death circulating. But the footage, possibly of the last chaotic moments of Gaddafi's life, offered some clues into what happened.
Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured near Sirte. In the video, filmed by a bystander in the crowd and later aired on television around the world, Gaddafi is shown being dragged off a vehicle's bonnet and pulled to the ground by his hair.
"Keep him alive, keep him alive!" someone shouts. Gunshots then ring out. The camera veers off.
"They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him," one senior source in the NTC told Reuters. "He might have been resisting."
In what appeared to contradict the events depicted in the video, Libya's ruling National Transitional Council said Gaddafi was killed when a gunfight broke out after his capture between his supporters and government fighters. He died from a bullet wound to the head.
It said no order had been given to kill him.
Gaddafi called the rebels who rose up against his 42-years of one-man rule "rats," but in the end it was he who was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and filth.
"He called us rats, but look where we found him," said Ahmed Al Sahati, a 27-year-old government fighter, standing next to two stinking drainage pipes under a six-lane highway near Sirte.
On the ground, government fighters and the scenes of sheer carnage nearby told the story of the dictator's final hours.
Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, Gaddafi, surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr, broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.
But they did not get far.
France said its aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on Thursday, but said it was unsure whether the strikes had killed Gaddafi.
Some two miles west of Sirte, 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burned out, smashed and smoldering next to an electricity sub station some 20 meters from the main road.
They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels has assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader.
But there was no bomb crater, indicating the strike may have been carried out by a helicopter gunship, or that it had been strafed by a fighter jet.
"MY MASTER IS HERE"
Inside the trucks still in their seats sat the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike. Other bodies lay mutilated and contorted strewn across the grass. Some 50 bodies in all.
Gaddafi himself and a handful of his men escaped death and appeared to have run through a stand of trees toward the main road and hid in the two drainage pipes.
But a group of government fighters were on their tail.
"At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use," said Salem Bakeer, while being feted by his comrades near the road. "Then we went in on foot.
"One of Gaddafi's men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me," he told Reuters.
"Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. 'My master is here, my master is here', he said, 'Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded'," said Bakeer.
"We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying 'what's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?'. Then we took him and put him in the car," Bakeer said.
At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.
Other government fighters who said they took part in Gaddafi's capture, separately confirmed Bakeer's version of events, though one said the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was shot and wounded at the last minute by one of his own men.
"One of Muammar Gaddafi's guards shot him in the chest," said Omran Jouma Shawan.
Another of the fighters who said he took part in the capture toted a heavily engraved a golden pistol he said he took from Gaddafi as he was hoisted on the shoulders of his comrades.
Army chief Jabr was also captured alive, Bakeer said. NTC officials later announced he was dead.
Fallen electricity cables partially covered the entrance to the pipes and the bodies of three men, apparently Gaddafi bodyguards lay at the entrance to one end, one in shorts probably due to a bandaged wound on his leg.
Four more bodies lay at the other end of the pipes. All black men, one had his brains blown out, another man had been decapitated, his dreadlocked head lying beside his torso.
Joyous government fighters fired their weapons in the air, shouted "Allahu Akbar" and posed for pictures. Others wrote graffiti on the concrete parapets of the highway.
"Gaddafi was captured here," said one simply.
"THEY BEAT HIM, THEN THEY KILLED HIM"
From there Gaddafi was taken to Sirte where he and his dwindling band of die-hard supporters had made a last stand under a rain of missile and artillery fire in a desperate two-month siege.
Video footage showed Gaddafi, dazed and wounded, but still clearly alive and as he was dragged from the front of a pick-up truck by a crowd of angry jostling government soldiers who hit him and pulled his hair to drag him to the ground.
He then appeared to fall to the ground and was enveloped by the crowd. NTC officials later announced Gaddafi had died of his wounds after capture.
Someone in the crowd shouted "keep him alive, keep him alive," but another fighter cried out in a high pitched crazed scream. Gaddafi then goes out of view and gunshots are heard.
Further television footage showed what appeared to be Gaddafi's lifeless body being loaded into an ambulance in Sirte.
An NTC spokesman in Benghazi, Jalal al-Galal, said a doctor who examined Gaddafi when he arrived in Misrata found he had been shot in the head and abdomen.
(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal in Sirte and Samia Nakhoul in Amman; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Maria Golovnina)
Fugitive Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was killed in fighting around his hometown Thursday, Libya's prime minister confirmed after hours of speculation surrounding his death.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Qaddafi has been killed," Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told a news conference in the capital Tripoli.
Libyan fighters captured Sirte, Qaddafi's hometown and the last bastion of loyalist resistance, earlier Thursday. Shortly after, reports of Qaddafi's capture and subsequent death began to swirl.
The 69-year-old Qaddafi is the first leader to be killed in the Arab Spring wave of popular uprisings that swept the Midde East, demanding the end of autocratic rulers and greater democracy. Qaddafi had been one of the world's most mercurial leaders, dominating Libya with a regime that often seemed run by his whims and bringing international condemnation and isolation on his country for years.
"Don't shoot": Qaddafi's final moments
With warped vision, Qaddafi maddened Libya, West
His death decisively ends a regime that had turned Libya into an international pariah and ran the oil-rich nation by the whims and brutality of its notoriously eccentric leader. Libya now enters a new era, but its turmoil may not be over. The former rebels who now rule are disorganized, face rebuilding a country stripped of institutions, and have already shown signs of infighting, with divisions between geographical areas and Islamist and more secular ideologies.
Initial reports from fighters said Qaddafi had been barricaded in with his heavily armed loyalists in the last few buildings they held in his Mediterranean coastal hometown of Sirte, furiously battling with revolutionary fighters closing in on them Thursday. At one point, a convoy tried to flee the area and was blasted by NATO airstrikes, but Jibril specified Qaddafi was not killed by the strike. Most accounts agreed Qaddafi was shot to death by fighters.
October 20, 2011 10:30 AM
Qaddafi dead after Sirte battle, PM confirms
Arab satellite TV stations have broadcast a video showing Qaddafi captured alive by revolutionary forces.(Watch at left - Warning: Graphic content.)
The video shows a wounded Qaddafi with a blood-soaked shirt and bloodied face leaning up against the hood of a truck and restrained by fighters. They then push him toward another car, as he shouts and struggles against them.
Later, fighters in Sirte rolled Qaddafi's body on the pavement, according to footage aired on Al-Jazeera, TV. The goaded Qaddafi was stripped to the waist and his head was bloodied. (Watch below - Warning: Graphic content.)
The body was then paraded through the streets of the nearby city of Misrata on top of a vehicle surrounded by a large crowd chanting, "The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain," according to footage aired on Al-Arabiya television. The fighters who killed Qaddafi are believed to have come from Misrata, a city that suffered a brutal weeks-long siege by Qaddafi's forces during the eight-month long civil war.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor who was part of the medical team that accompanied the body in the ambulance to Misrata, said Qaddafi died from two bullet wounds, to the head and chest.
"You can't imagine my happiness today. I can't describe my happiness," he told The Associated Press. "The tyranny is gone. Now the Libyan people can rest."
A cell phone picture reportedly taken in Sirte apparently shows Qaddafi covered in blood.(Warning: Photo contains graphic content.)
Imad Moustaf, a rebel fighter who said he witnessed Qaddafi's death, told GlobalPost's James Foley that Qaddafi was shot in the head and near his heart on the outskirts of Sirte. Moustaf said the former leader had been hiding in a hole surrounded by bodyguards.
Another fighter told the BBC that Qaddafi yelled out "don't shoot" after being discovered.
According to the Telegraph's Ben Farmer, who has been to the site in Sirte where Qaddafi was allegedly found, Qaddafi and his bodyguards had taken refuge in a drain after their convoy was struck by a NATO airstrike and were discovered there by TNC fighters.
Libyans jubilant after Qaddafi's demise
Complete Coverage: Anger in the Arab World
NATO did acknowledge it hit a convoy of Qaddafi's loyalists fleeing Sirte on Thursday morning "which were part of a larger group maneuvering in the vicinity of Sirte." France's defense minister later confirmed it was a French jet that opened fire on the convoy.
Clinton told correspondent Whit Johnson that the capture Qaddafi would be a significant development in Libya, but also said she did not expect his capture would end the fighting there.
Clinton spoke before the U.S. was informed that Qaddafi had been confirmed dead.
'Wow!' Hillary Clinton surprise as read about Gaddafi's capture on her BlackBerry
HILLARY Clinton was preparing for interviews in Kabul, Afghanistan when her BlackBerry beeped.
Her aide handed her phone with the first news of Muammar Gaddafi's capture.
"Wow!" she exclaimed on camera. "Unconfirmed reports about Gaddafi being captured."
But the US Secretary of State wasn't immediately convinced. "We've had a bunch of those before. We've had him captured a couple of times," she said.
When confirmation of Gaddafi's death came soon after, US President Barack Obama addressed TV cameras from the White House lawn.
"This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya," he said.
"The rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end."
Libya's Muammar Gaddafi killedThe Daily Telegraph, 1 hour ago
Don't shoot, don't shoot: Gaddafi's last wordsPerth Now, 1 hour ago
Gaddafi killed as stronghold falls Adelaide Now, 1 hour ago
Gaddafi and son killed in final battle Foundation, 1 hour ago
Gaddafi's mercy plea before being shot Courier Mail, 1 hour ago
He urged Libyans to now look to the future and build a "democratic" and "tolerant" nation.
World leaders greeted the death of Muammar Gaddafi as the end of despotism, tyranny, dictatorship and ultimately war in the north African country.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said it was a historic moment not just for the Libyan people, but for the wider Arab world and for people generally searching for political freedom.
"We now stand ready to assist Libya in new ways, including the building of its new democratic institutions and electoral processes," Rudd said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed a chance for Libya's "democratic future" as he remembered Gaddafi's victims, including those who died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Gaddafi's death was "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," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"A new page is turning for the Libyan people, one of reconciliation in unity and freedom."
French, US and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against Gaddafi's military by the NATO military alliance, which has launched nearly 1000 strike sorties since March 31.
The transatlantic alliance said it would begin winding down its six-month mission on Friday, as Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen invited the Libyan people to now "truly decide their own future."
Muhammad al-Senussi, the heir apparent in Libya's overthrown monarchy, called for a display of unity from his people, while acknowledging the "challenges" that lie ahead.
Now that Gaddafi was gone, Egypt's government expressed hope for a "new chapter" in Libya and pledged support in rebuilding the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also welcomed the news of Gaddafi's death on Thursday, arguing his demise and that of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein were "proof of the potential of the people."
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the events in Libya ushered in a "historic transition" for the country.
"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 UN headquarters.
In Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said "now the war is over."
"Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world)," he added.
The Vatican's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, prayed for "peace in the country and democracy."
In Brussels, the European Union welcomed "the end of an era of despotism".
The news also means an end to the "repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long," EU president Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint statement with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Gaddafi's death left the way clear for a new, peaceful, political start, urging the country to move swiftly toward democracy.
Gaddafi was fatally wounded as new regime forces launched a final assault on the last pocket of resistance in his hometown of Sirte, a National Transitional Council spokesman said.
Son killed in fighting updated: 2011-10-21 08:06 China Daily
TRIPOLI, Libya Libya's fallen leader Muammar Gadhafi's son Mutassim was killed onThursday in Sirte, several hours after his father died of wounds suffered in a gun battle in thecity, a commander of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) confirmed to Xinhua.
The commander, Momhemed Buras Ali AlMaknee, who was battling Gadhafi's loyalists in Sirte,said earlier that Mutassim was captured alive inside the city of Sire after NTC fighters overranthe city's number two neighborhood where Gadhafi's loyalists had been cornered.
The circumstances of Mutassim's death could not be immediately verified.
The commander also said that NTC fighters have encircled a place in Sirte where Gadhafi'ssecond son Saif al-Islam was believed to be hiding.
Killing Qaddafi: Murder or Vigilante Justice
By Ali Younes
The killing of former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi today might bring a swift end to the bloody rebellion that erupted against his rule eight months ago. News reports showed a bloody and injured Qaddafi staggering and disheveled between jubilant armed rebels’ forces. The possibility that the rebel fighters’ might have murdered Qaddafi is not something the Libyan rebel leadership should be proud of, celebrate or condone. It was later confirmed by news reports however that Qaddafi was captured alive before he was shot dead by his captors.
Rebel fighters claimed during interviews on Arab televisions that Qaddafi had old injuries possibly from the fighting, but subsequent images however showed that Qaddafi was not seriously injured before he was killed which cast suspicion at the rebels’ story.
One might find it understandable, however, that amid the fog of war and chaos order and discipline are not established especially when the war is fought by an unorganized ragtag citizen-militias. On the other hand however, others argue that the rebel leadership and NATO forces wanted Qaddafi dead so they don’t have to give him up to the International Criminal Court, ICC, for prosecution where he might embarrass them as his former comrades and partners.
It is great news, nevertheless that the Libyan people finally won the battle and got rid of one of the most ruthless and criminal dictators in the Arab World.
This win, however is marred by the apparent murder of Qaddafi which would be considered a war crime to kill a captured and unarmed combatant. This is not a defense of Qaddafi, but one should not commit murder while trying to achieve justice and at the same time claiming the moral high grounds.
Qaddafi’s brutal and bloody end, meanwhile, should inspire the rest of Arab dictators to think that clinging, to what president Obama called in his statement today ,their “iron fist” dictatorial powers and abuse their citizens will eventually spell the end of their regimes and possibly their lives as well.
Let us remember that the end of Qaddafi did not come so cheap or so easily, it cost the Libyan people a lot of blood, treasure and destruction that they need a long time to recover from decades of abuse and rebuild what this infighting had destroyed.
With the Libyan chapter is coming to a close with the end of Qaddafi and several of his sons, the rest of Arab dictators mainly Syria’s Bashaar Al Assad and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Salih will find themselves facing three options.
Option one the zinelabidine ben ali option which is step down from power and leave the country. With this option the dictator can save his and his family lives and also spare the people wanton death and destruction.
Option two is the Hosni Mubarak of Egypt option which is to resign and stand trial for killing the citizens, abuse of power, and theft of country’s resources.
Option three is the Qaddafi option which is to fight the entire population of the country with no hope of ever wining against millions of angry and abused citizens. At the end, Qaddafi’s fate should teach the Arab leaders one big lesson that is no matter how far you go in the abuse and murder of innocent people and citizens of your country, the people’s anger and patience have limits and your crimes will not go unpunished.
Ali Younes is a writer and Middle East analyst based in Washington D.C. He contributed
this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.46pm: With Gaddafi dead, what next for the Arab Spring uprising? Latrobe University international relations lecturer Luca Anceschi writes while the movement has been effective in bringing down unwanted regimes, it has failed to translate the basic claims of different uprisings into new political order. With the death of Gaddafi, the future of the 2011 Arab uprising is at a crossroad.
1.12pm: From his all-female bodyguards to his eccentric outfits to his golden gun, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was every bit the James Bond villain. Read how the boy born to Bedouins in 1942 rose to become one of the most feared, and powerful, figures in the Middle East.
12.55pm: Gaddafi, Qaddafi, Gadhafi, Qazzafi, Qadhdhafi, Qaththafi, Gadhdhafi, Khadafy? The ex-Libyan dictator has long been a Google search nightmare, due to the seemingly countless ways you can spell his name .
According to the Associated Press, it seems no one can pin down the spelling of his surname using the English alphabet. It's not just media organisations: Even official Libyan government documents vary widely in rendering his name in Latin letters.
Fairfax Media and Australian Associated Press use Gaddafi, while the Agence France-Presse style is Kadhafi and the US Associated Press goes with Gadhafi.
The spelling is complicated by a perfect storm of issues: Arabic letters or sounds that don't exist in English, differences in pronunciation between formal Arabic and dialects, and differences between transliteration systems.
12.43pm: Libyan Association of Australia spokesman Abdussalam Ali says the Sydney Libyan community is planning a celebration in Lakemba this evening to mark the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
"It's a point of change," Mr Ali told AAP. "It's changed from a dictatorship ... to hopefully another new democratic government that respects the freedom, especially human rights ... and making relations with the international community."
12.24pm: Muammar Gaddafi was known almost as well for his eccentricities as for his brutality. We've just compiled a list of some of his most famous public utterances. Some highlights include:
"They love me, all my people ... they would die to protect me." - Insisting the people of Libya were not protesting against him, during an interview in February 2011.
"It should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the terror council." - During his first speech to the United Nations, which lasted for 90 minutes, in 2009.
"There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet." - Giving a lecture to US academics at Columbia University, New York in 2006.
There were also some memorable quotes about the man from world leaders who met him, none more memorable than from the late US president, Ronald Reagan.
"The mad dog of the Middle East has a goal of a world revolution, Muslim fundamentalist revolution." - Ronald Reagan in 1986.
12.20pm: Here's the latest wrap up of events so far in Libya:
Muammar Gaddafi has been killed during a battle between rebel and loyalist forces in his hometown of Sirte on the Libyan coast.
Gaddafi was captured alive while hiding in a sewerage drain. He was reportedly injured at the time of capture but succumbed to his wounds while being transported to the rebel stronghold city of Misrata. Some of Gaddafi's wounds were seemingly inflicted after his capture.
Speculation continues to swirl about his final moments. He was reportedly wounded before his capture and at some stage after sustained a fatal gunshot to the head when the truck carrying him was "caught in crossfire, according to Interim Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.
Graphic images and video of the fallen dictator have quickly flown around the world. A doctor who examined the fallen strongman in Misrata found he had been shot in the head and abdomen.
There are conflicting reports of the fate of Gaddafi's sons. Officials said his son Mutasin, seen bleeding but alive in a video, had died. Another son, heir-apparent Seif 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.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott have both welcomed the developments in Libya, with Ms Gillard calling it a "day of relief".
12.10pm: RMIT University international affairs expert Dr Binoy Kampmark has warned Libya continues to face a bumpy road ahead on the path to democracy. In an interview with AAP, he said the dictator's killing would mean greater stability for the National Transitional Council (NTC), created in the aftermath of the uprising against Gaddafi, but uncertain times remained.
"The transitional council itself is marred by inner conflicts, so that's one of the problems there, we're not sure how those conflicts will play out. Now that Gaddafi is dead the common object is gone, so it means that the possibility for further conflict may actually exist amongst the members of the NTC."
11.56am: British tabloid The Sun has run a screaming headline on their front page that reads "That's for Lockerbie, Gaddafi", saying the 270 victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland had finally been avenged.
11.41am: Australian Libyans have shared in the joy of their countrymen and women at news of Gaddafi's death. NSW student Fouad Elgahwash told AAP he dreamt that Libya would become a new nation.
The 39-year-old Libyan national, who is studying at the University of Wollongong, said his brother was among the rebel fighters in the town of Sirte when Gaddafi was captured. "I called my brother maybe five o'clock this morning, he told me we have got Gaddafi at Sirte and they've killed him," Elgahwash told AAP.
"I think Libyan people at the moment are so happy because Gaddafi can't dictate anymore. "I'm very happy, you know, because I'm Libyan. Now we can renew and rebuild a new Libya."
Elgahwash said his brother had since returned safely to his family in the northwestern city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli. "(They're feeling) very, very, very happy because they don't have to fight anymore," Elgahwash said. "My dream is to make a new Libya. That there's no jihad, there's no killing, just open the doors ... to make a new community in the world, a new country."
11.18am: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released a statement, hailing Gaddafi's death as a "day of relief" for the country of Libya.
"Australia recognises today as a day of relief in Libya as the long war of liberation comes to an end. Australia also recognises today as a beginning as well as an end.
Families of the US victims of the Lockerbie bombing have applauded the Libyan people after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, but urged Libya's new leaders to bring the other perpetrators to justice.
Gaddafi was accused of ordering the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet that exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 259 people on the plane, most of them Americans, as well as 11 Scots on the ground.
The only person convicted, Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, was released by Scotland on compassionate grounds in 2009 after doctors said he had three months to live. He returned to Libya.
"First, we want to commend the Libyan people for their courage and determination," said a statement posted on the official homepage of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103.
"Their freedom has come at a very high cost of their loved ones, so we all owe them a debt of gratitude."
The statement praised NATO forces and US President Barack Obama for supporting rebel efforts and helping to oust Gaddafi, who had ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than four decades.
"It might have been easier to stand back and allow potentially tragic events to play out," it said. "Instead, the US, the UK and France showed tremendous courage in the face of challenging political and diplomatic circumstances."
Britain and the United States have pressed Libya's new leaders to co-operate in further investigations into the bombing and the families of the American victims insisted those efforts must continue even with Gaddafi gone.
"For more than 20 years, the families of the Victims of Pan Am 103 have been fighting tirelessly in the pursuit of justice and justice demands that the tyrannical Gaddafi regime needs to be held accountable for the murder of our loved ones," they said.
"Although today is a great day for the Libyan people and for the universal fight for freedom, our work is not done.
"The Libyan agent convicted in the bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, remains at large in Libya and other Libyan officials involved in the bombing have not been captured," it said.
"We will take a moment today to honor our family members: In their memory, we did not give up. We kept fighting for them and for some semblance of justice. Today, we take some satisfaction that justice can be done."
Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire after being captured in his birthplace of Sirte, officials say.
Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he had been shot in the head in an exchange between Gaddafi loyalists and National Transitional Council fighters.
He confirmed that Col Gaddafi, who had been taken alive, had died before reaching hospital.
Nato's governing body, meeting in the coming hours, is expected to declare an end to its Libyan bombing campaign.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that with the death of Col Gaddafi "that moment has now moved much closer".
"After 42 years, Col Gaddafi's rule of fear has finally come to an end," he said. "I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future."
Wild scenes of celebration continued late into the night in towns and cities across Libya at news of the colonel's death.
Groups of young men fired guns in the air, and drivers honked their horns in celebration.
In the capital, Tripoli, cars clogged the city centre.
Mr Jibril, number two in the National Transitional Council (NTC), held a news conference in Tripoli to confirm the colonel's death.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," he said.
Video footage suggests Col Gaddafi was dragged through the streets.
At the scene Rana JawadBBC News, Tripoli
Residents swarmed the streets of the capital, waving flags and cheering from the windows of their cars.
Streets in various districts have been gridlocked for hours.
People and fighters manning checkpoints shouted out "God is Great", as some distributed mints and biscuits - later dubbed "revolutionary treats" - to passing cars.
There are many who will be wondering "what next?" for Libya as it embarks on a new era unobtainable for almost half a century.
But for many Libyans tonight, it is a time to rejoice.
• Wild celebrations across Tripoli
It is unclear from the footage, broadcast by al-Jazeera TV, whether he was alive or dead at the time.
Later, Mr Jibril told journalists that a "forensic report" had concluded that the colonel had died from bullet wounds after he had been captured and driven away.
"When the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head," he said, quoting from the report.
"The forensic doctor could not tell if it came from the revolutionaries or from Gaddafi's forces."
Earlier, some NTC fighters gave a different account of the colonel's death, saying he had been shot by his captors when he tried to escape.
One NTC fighter told the BBC that he found Col Gaddafi hiding in a hole, and the former leader had begged him not to shoot.
The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi.
Arabic TV channels showed images of troops surrounding two large drainage pipes where the reporters said Col Gaddafi was found.
US President Barack Obama said it was a "momentous day" for Libya.
He said the country had a "long and winding road towards full democracy", but the US and other countries would stand behind Tripoli.
Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country.
He was making his last stand in Sirte alongside two of his sons, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam, according to reports.
Nato air strike
A body that officials identified as that of Mutassim has been shown on Libyan TV.
A reporter with Reuters news agency described how the body of Mutassim - the former national security adviser - had been laid out on blankets on the floor of a house in the city of Misrata, while people jostled to take pictures of the corpse with their mobile phones.
The body of Col Gaddafi was also taken to Misrata.
There are conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of Saif al-Islam.
Acting Justice Minister Mohammad al-Alagi told AP news agency that Saif al-Islam had been captured and taken to hospital with a leg wound.
But another NTC official said his whereabouts were unknown.
Nato, which has been running a bombing campaign in Libya for months, said it had carried out an air strike earlier on Thursday.
French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said French jets had fired warning shots to halt a convoy carrying Col Gaddafi as it tried to flee Sirte.
He said Libyan fighters had then descended and taken the colonel.
Proof of Col Gaddafi's fate came in grainy pieces of video, first circulated among fighters, and then broadcast by international news channels.
The first images showed a bloodied figure presumed to be Col Gaddafi.
Later, video emerged of the colonel being bundled on to the back of a pick-up truck after being captured alive.
None of the video footage has been independently verified.
Libyans Cheer Qaddafi Death as Step Toward Democratic Future
October 21, 2011, 1:24 AM EDT
By Caroline Alexander, Ola Galal and Mariam Fam
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Exuberant Libyans waving flags and assault rifles poured into the streets of Tripoli and other cities to celebrate the death of Muammar Qaddafi, who ruled by force of arms and personality for 42 years.
His attempt to escape the holdout coastal city of Sirte, the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks, was foiled by French warplanes, which spotted and blocked his convoy of SUVs until Libyan fighters reached the scene, according to French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet.
In the celebrations, men held their children while fighters flashed victory signs and fired weapons into the air, as people danced to the new national anthem. In the evening, fireworks lit up the capital’s sky.
“Years of tyranny and dictatorship have now been closed,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, National Transitional Council vice chairman, told reporters in Benghazi.
Qaddafi’s son Mutassim died after being shot in the neck, according to an e-mail from the Misrata Military Council, whose fighters led the assault on Sirte and act independently of the NTC. Anti-Qaddafi forces were reported to be chasing two convoys, one of which was said to carry another Qaddafi son, his once heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, according to Ahmed Bani, an NTC defense spokesman.
Western leaders cheered the conclusion of the hunt for Qaddafi, which will allow NATO to end its operations, even as analysts cautioned that Libya’s political divisions may jeopardize its democratic ambitions.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in remarks at the White House, called it a “momentous day” in Libyan history and said the oil-producing North African nation now must follow the “long and winding road to full democracy.”
“A new page opens for the Libyan people, that of reconciliation in unity and liberty,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was at the forefront of Western efforts to aid the Libyan uprising.
The circumstances of Qaddafi’s death were unclear. Broadcasters carried images purporting to show Qaddafi, alive and standing after his capture, and later his corpse. Mahmoud Jibril, the acting prime minister, was cited by CNN as saying that Qaddafi was captured alive and was killed in crossfire as he was driven away in a vehicle.
Amnesty International, a human rights group, called on the NTC to make public “the full facts” on how Qaddafi died. “It is essential to conduct a full, independent and impartial inquiry to establish” whether Qaddafi was killed during combat or after he was captured, the organization said on its website.
The uprising was part of the region’s so-called Arab Spring, which also unseated the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. While Africa’s largest oil reserves may enable Libya to rebuild its economy faster than Egypt and Tunisia, the challenge facing the interim government is political as it struggles to unite the factions that challenged Qaddafi’s rule since February.
The NTC has said that control of Sirte will begin an eight- month countdown to elections for a national council, a first step toward a promised democratic system.
“The transition will probably be even more difficult compared to Egypt or Tunisia, because there’s no clear leadership, the power is very fragmented, there are big interests at stake and there’s no institution strong enough to handle all this,” Nicolo Sartori, an energy and defense analyst at Rome’s Institute for International Affairs, said in a phone interview.
Nuri Berruien, the chairman of Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp., said Qaddafi’s death will expedite the nation’s efforts to return to normal crude-output levels.
“A lot of things will return quickly after this good news,” he said yesterday by mobile telephone from Libya.
Oil prices dipped at around noon London time on news of Qaddafi’s capture and injuries, before advancing later. Crude oil for November delivery fell 66 cents to settle at $85.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Libyan oil output, which fell from 1.6 million barrels a day to zero during the uprising, may reach 600,000 barrels a day by the end of the year, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris.
After Tripoli’s fall, Qaddafi had issued statements that he preferred to die a martyr. His loyalists massed in Sirte, strategically important because of its airport and harbor, and in Bani Walid.
A French Dassault Aviation SA Mirage 2000 jet fired its cannon ahead of the suspect convoy to make it stop as the vehicles sought to leave Sirte, Longuet said at a briefing in Paris. It did not fire directly on the convoy, he said.
“It was a suspect convoy and the goal was to stop it so it could be inspected,” he said. Libyan forces then attacked the convoy, he said.
“It was our courageous revolutionaries who have killed the tyrant and not NATO,” Bani said on Al Arabiya television.
On a visit to Libya Oct. 18, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in response to a question from a young Libyan, said that the U.S. hoped Qaddafi could “be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer.”
Clinton also urged the transitional leadership and Libyans who supported the anti-Qaddafi cause to refrain from vigilantism and to use the justice system, not the streets, to deal with those accused of atrocities during the eight-month rebellion.
The Misrata forces said they had defeated the last of Qaddafi’s loyalists in Sirte, ending weeks of battles that erupted last month after talks on the town’s surrender broke down.
The interim government attributed the tenacity of loyalists in Sirte to the presence of senior Qaddafi aides, including Mutassim. About 17 of Qaddafi’s closest aides were captured in Sirte during the final battle, said a top Libyan envoy to the U.K., Mahmud Nacua.
“Today Libya’s future begins,” he told reporters in London. “The people are looking forward to a very promising future.”
Pope Benedict XVI said the death of Qaddafi after a “bloody fight” marks the end of an “oppressive” regime that must pave the way for a transition without retaliation. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasumussen in a statement urged the NTC “to prevent reprisals against civilians and show restraint in dealing with defeated pro-Qaddafi forces.”
Obama said the demise of Qaddafi’s regime vindicates his strategy of bringing together allies to act, meeting its objectives without putting U.S. troops on the ground.
“We’ve demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century,” Obama said. The NATO mission in Libya “will soon come to an end.”
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the death of Qaddafi, urging people to think of the victims of his deposed Libyan regime.
“Today is a day to remember all Colonel Qaddafi’s victims,” Cameron told reporters outside his London residence, listing those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher and people killed by the Irish Republican Army, which Qaddafi supplied with Semtex explosive, as well as those killed in Libya.
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Doctors completed the autopsy of Moammar Gadhafi on Sunday, with the chief pathologist confirming the former Libyan leader died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Dr. Othman el-Zentani would not disclose additional findings, such as whether the findings revealed if Gadhafi suffered the wound in crossfire or at close-range.
Zentani said the report will now go to the attorney general's office before it is released to the public.
Doctors performed the autopsy at a Misrata hospital in the presence of officials from the prosecutor's office, Zentani said.
No foreign or independent officials were present, he said.
Autopsies were also conducted on the bodies of Gadhafi's son, Mutassim, and his former defense minister, Abu Baker Yunis.
The three bodies would likely return to a cold storage unit at a Misrata meat market for public viewing, Zentani said.
All weekend long, long lines have people turned up to view the corpses.
Gadhafi's death Thursday solidified the power of the National Transitional Council, which will mark the country's liberation on Sunday in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the uprising started.
Gadhafi's family issued a statement Friday calling on the United Nations and Amnesty International to push Libya's new leadership "to hand over the bodies of the martyrs of their tribe so they can be buried according to Islamic rites," a pro-Gadhafi TV station reported.
Libyan and world powers wanted to capture Gadhafi and prosecute him for war crimes.
The U.N. human rights office and activist groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have called for a probe into Gadhafi's death amid questions over the final moments of the late Libyan strongman's life. They want to know whether Gadhafi was killed in crossfire or executed by fighters.
Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the NTC's executive board, said Gadhafi was captured alive and unharmed Thursday as fighters overran his hometown of Sirte. But a gunbattle erupted between the fighters and Gadhafi loyalists as his captors attempted to load him into a vehicle, Jibril said, leaving Gadhafi with a wound to his right arm.
More shooting erupted as the vehicle drove away, and Gadhafi was shot in the head, dying moments before arriving at a hospital in Misrata, Jibril said, citing the city's coroner.
Human Rights Watch is calling for an internationally supervised autopsy and an investigation into the death, and one of its officials said it is unlikely that Gadhafi was killed in crossfire.
Peter Bouckaert, the group's emergencies director, told CNN that fighting had ended when Gadhafi was cornered in a drainage ditch. He said crowds beat Gadhafi in what was a "humiliating end" for the former dictator.
"When he left the area, he was very much alive," Bouckaert said. "There's no reason why he should have been subjected to this kind of mob justice."
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva on Friday that there were "at least two cell-phone videos, one showing him alive and one showing him dead."
"Taken together, these videos are very disturbing," he said.
"We believe there is a need for an investigation and more details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in the fighting or after his capture.