What you need to know:
- After 42 years of erratic, colourful but deadly rule, Gaddafi comes to a bloody death in a hole near Sirte
Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi was on Thurday killed, reportedly by forces of the new government in his hometown of Sirte.
There were reports that the toppled dictator was cowering in a culvert after his convoy was attacked by Nato jets.
In Brussels, a Nato spokesman said two alliance aircraft on Thursday morning struck two pro-Gadaffi military vehicles near Sirte.
“At approximately 0830 local time today (yesterday), Nato aircraft struck two pro-Gadaffi military vehicles which were part of a larger group manoeuvring in the vicinity of Sirte,” Nato spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie said in a statement.
A Nato diplomat said checks were under way to verify reports by the NTC that the convoy in which Gadaffi was travelling was stopped by Nato strikes.
“We announce to the world that Gadaffi has died in the custody of the revolution,” National Transitional Council spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga said in the eastern city of Benghazi.
“It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Gadaffi has met his fate,” he added.
He said that the fugitive despot’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.”
NTC fighters who had fought in the bloody seven-month conflict that toppled the veteran despot at a cost of more than 25,000 lives, erupted in jubilation at the news, which followed earlier reports that Gadaffi had been captured alive.
Al Jazeera television showed what it said was Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse lying on the ground, with a bloodied face, lifeless open eyes and an apparent gunshot wound to the side of the head, as jubilant fighters fired automatic weapons in the air.
The images punctuated an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who had basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.
A photograph taken on a mobile phone appeared to show the 69-year-old Gaddafi, toppled in August, heavily bloodied.
In the blurry image, Gadaffi is seen with blood-soaked clothing and blood daubed across his face.
A video circulating among NTC fighters in Sirte showed mobile phone footage of what appeared to be Gadaffi’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.
The body is then dragged off by the fighters and loaded in the back of a pick-up truck.
Another NTC commander, said one of Gadaffi’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.
News of Gadaffi’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 the east and the 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 Gadaffi is dead, Libya has been completely liberated,” a top NTC military official, Khalifa Haftar, told AFP in Tripoli.
“Those who were fighting with Gadaffi have either been killed or captured,” he added.
Pick-up trucks blaring out patriotic music criss-crossed the streets of Sirte Thursday afternoon, 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 Gadaffi and his people,” said fighter Ali Urfulli. “We have taken revenge. Let him go to hell.”
Gadaffi was wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity but Libyan leaders had said they wanted him captured alive so he could be put on trial in his home country.
Marks a milestone
Medics said that at least three NTC fighters were killed and 30 wounded in Sirte yesterday after 18 were killed and around 180 wounded over the previous two days.
The fall of Sirte marks a milestone. Libya’s new rulers had said that only once the city had fallen would they declare the country’s liberation and begin the transition to an elected government.
In the end loyalist forces were limited to a tiny enclave of less than a square kilometre which had been completely cut off by the besieging NTC forces who controlled the entire seafront of the Mediterranean coastal city as well as all of its landward sides.
Sirte once had 100,000 inhabitants, almost all of whom have fled. Fierce artillery battles and heavy gunfire over the past month have not left a single building intact, while looting has become commonplace as NTC fighters take their revenge on the Gadaffi bastion.
Among the few natives of Sirte in NTC ranks, anger at the destruction wreaked on their home city by their comrades runs deep.
“We are not happy about what has been happening in our city. It is the only city that is getting so much destruction,” said Ibrahim Alazhry.