Libya: Moammar Qaddafi killed in Sirte
21 October, 2011
SIRTE, Libya: Former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi died of wounds suffered on Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown Sirte, Libya's interim rulers said.
His killing, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the single most dramatic development in the Arab Spring revolts that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened the grip on power of the leaders of Syria and Yemen.
"He (Qaddafi) was also hit in his head," National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."
Mlegta earlier said that Qaddafi, who was in his late 60s, was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which Nato warplanes attacked. He said he had been taken away by an ambulance. There was no independent confirmation of his remarks.
An anti-Qaddafi fighter said Qaddafi had been found hiding in a hole in the ground and had said "Don't shoot, don't shoot" to the men who grabbed him. His capture followed within minutes of a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader. The capture of Sirte and the death of Qaddafi means Libya's ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would get underway after the city, built as a showpiece for Qaddafi's rule, had fallen.
Qaddafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians, was toppled by rebel forces on August 23 after 42 years of one-man rule over the oil-producing North African state. The NTC fighters hoisted the red, black and green national flag above a large utilities building in the centre of a newly-captured Sirte neighbourhood and celebratory gunfire broke out among their ecstatic and relieved comrades. Hundreds of the NTC troops had surrounded the Mediterranean coastal town for weeks in a chaotic struggle that killed and wounded scores of the besieging forces and an unknown number of defenders.
The NTC fighters said there were a large number of corpses inside the last redoubts of the Qaddafi troops. It was not immediately possible to verify that information. Mreanwhile, Al Jazeera English Television broadcast on Thursday what it said was exclusive footage clearly showing the body of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi being dragged by rebels along a street.
The footage showed the half naked body of the toppled Libyan strongman being stripped of his shirt. His face was red with blood and had a bullet hole in the side of his head. The legs of a uniformed transitional government fighter were showing next to Qaddafi's face.
Meanwhile, a Libyan transitional forces commander said Moussa Ibrahim, former spokesman for Muammar Qaddafi's fallen government, was captured near the city of Sirte on Thursday. — Reuters
AFP adds: A pro-Qaddafi television website denied Thursday reports that the strongman had been killed or captured. "The reports peddled by the lackeys of Nato about the capture or death of the brother leader, Qaddafi, are baseless," said Al-Libiya television. Qaddafi "is in good health," it added.
Reports Qaddafi was killed or captured "are nothing but rumours. It is not the first time they have resorted to this kind of disinformation," the report said. Libyan TV channel "Libya lil Ahrar" also said that Qaddafi was in custody, along with his son Mutassim and other top aides.
A commander of the new regime forces said Mutassim Qaddafi, one of the ousted Libyan strongman's sons, was found dead in Sirte on Thursday. "We found him dead. We put his body and that of (former defence minister) Abu Bakr Yunis in an ambulance to take them to Misrata," said Mohamed Leith, who had earlier confirmed that Qaddafi had been captured in his hometown and subsequently died of his wounds.
Meanwhile, Western leaders welcomed the death of former Libyan strongman Qaddafi as the end of despotism, tyranny, dictatorship and ultimately war in the North African country.
"It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Qaddafi has met his fate," said a spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC), Libya's new rulers, in announcing the news.