Longtime dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, has been killed following the capture of his hometown of Sirte.
There were confusing reports of Gaddafi's capture and death, and questions remained over exactly how he was killed.
Arab broadcasters showed graphic images of the balding, goateed Gaddafi – wounded, with a bloodied face and shirt – but alive. Later video showed fighters rolling Gaddafi's lifeless body over on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of blood under his head.
While he was still alive, the fighters drove him around lying on the hood of a truck, perhaps to parade him in public. One fighter held him down, pressing on his thigh with a pair of shoes in a show of contempt.
Standing upright, he is shoved along a Sirte road by fighters who chanted "God is great."
Gaddafi appears to struggle against them, stumbling and shouting as the fighters push him onto the hood of a pickup truck.
"We want him alive. We want him alive," one man shouted before Gaddafi is dragged away, some fighters pulling his hair, toward an ambulance.
Most accounts agreed Gaddafi had been holed up with heavily armed supporters in the last few buildings held by regime loyalists in the Mediterranean coastal town, furiously battling revolutionary fighters. The battle for Sirte has been raging for more than a month.
At one point, a convoy tried to flee and was hit by NATO airstrikes, carried out by French warplanes. France's Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the 80-vehicle convoy was carrying Gaddafi and was trying to escape the city. The strikes stopped the convoy but did not destroy it, and then revolutionary fighters moved in on the vehicle carrying Gaddafi.
One fighter who said he was at the battle told AP Television News that the final fight took place at an opulent compound. Adel Busamir said the convoy tried to break out but after being hit, it turned back and re-entered the compound. Several hundred fighters attacked.
"We found him there," Busamir said of Gaddafi. "We saw them beating him (Gaddafi) and someone shot him with a 9mm pistol ... then they took him away."
Military spokesman Col. Ahmed Bani in Tripoli told Al-Jazeera TV that a wounded Gaddafi "tried to resist (revolutionary forces) so they took him down."
Fathi Bashaga, spokesman for the Misrata military council, whose forces were involved in the battle, said fighters encircled the convoy and exchanged fire. In one vehicle, they found Gaddafi, wounded in the neck, and took him to an ambulance. "What do you want?" Gaddafi asked the approaching revolutionaries, Bashaga said, citing witnesses.
Gaddafi bled to death from his wounds a half-hour later, he said. Fighters said he died in the ambulance en route to Misrata, 120 miles from Sirte.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor who accompanied the body in the ambulance and examined it, said Gaddafi 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."
In the United States, President Obama addressed the death of Gaddafi in a press conference. "The Transitional National Council informed the United States of Gaddafi's death shortly before Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's announcement to his nation that the moment so many had waited for had come, a U.S. official said. The White House and State Department were expected to release official responses later Thursday," Obama said, according to the Associated Press. "You have won your revolution," he continued, "One of the world's longest-serving dictators is no more."
In Tripoli, celebrations are already underway with gunfire and honking. "We've heard quite a lot of celebratory gunfire," Caroline Hawley reports for the BBC.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Libya on Tuesday to offer a new aid package. She told students during a gathering in Tripoli, "We hope [Gaddafi] can be captured or killed soon so that you don't have to fear him any longer."
Gaddafi was ousted from power in August, and his whereabouts have been unknown for months. The Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, accused Libya's former ruler of crimes against humanity.
Reuters is also reporting that an official from the National Transitional Council, Libya's interim government, has confirmed the death of Abu Bakr Yunis Jabr, Gaddafi's Minister of Defense.
This is a breaking news update, further information will be added as it becomes available.
Below, follow live updates:
Libya's interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told TIME late Thursday night that Gaddafi had been killed in cross-fire between rebels and loyalist fighters while the rebels in Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirt were attempting to carry the wounded colonel to an ambulance.
According to Jibril, Gaddafi was cornered while hiding in a large sewage pipe in Sirt, as rebels closed in on the last bit of disputed territory in the city, about 230 miles east of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast. "He did not resist, although he had a small pistol," Jibril says. He was shot once in the arm, and then, as fighters carried him to the ambulance, a fierce fire-fight broke out between the warring sides.
Full story here.
Disturbing images of a blood-stained and shaken Muammar Gaddafi being dragged around 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 emerging. 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, 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.
Full story here.
Via Foreign Policy:
While the killing of Muammar al-Qaddafi today in Sirte begins a new chapter for the free Libyan people, it's also a particularly opportune time to look back at the tyrant's cruel and bizarre 42-year rule. Foreign Policy presents an exclusive collection of never-before-seen pictures and documents from Qaddafi's private homes and state intelligence ministries.
See the pictures here.
Al Jazeera reports:
With the death of Muammar Gaddafi by National Transitional Council forces, questions are now being asked about NATO presence in the North African nation.
After seven months, attacks on 6,000 military targets, and the deployment of 9,500 attack forces, the death of Gaddafi calls the continued presence of NATO in Libya into question.
For more on what to expect, click here.
Via HuffPost Business:
Hearing the news of Muammar Gaddafi's death on Thursday, many American leaders released statements on what the end of the Libyan dictator's run meant for the world.
"The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted," said President Barack Obama.
"I think people across the world recognize that the world is a better place without Muammar Gaddafi," said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
But businessman Donald Trump? He needed only two words: "Big deal."
Watch Trump's reaction here.
Celebrations in Tripoli.
Tawarga is a poor dormitory town 20 minutes from Misrata, whose mostly black population fled in August when rebel forces captured it. Today it is a ghost town, its modest grey breeze block houses empty, the doors broken open, with green flags indicating support for the Gaddafi regime still fluttering from rooftops. Misratans have long blamed the people of Tawarga for murders, rapes and looting in alliance with pro-Gaddafi forces during fighting in March and April. It is common to hear Misratans making derogatory remarks about Tawarga's black population, coupled with the hope that the population, who fled to southern Libya, will never return. On Tuesday homes and shops were set ablaze around the town, some fires starting even as journalists arrived to investigate.
Read the full article on HuffPost World.
Throughout the day, a range of national and international figures commented on the events in Libya. A small recap.
"The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted," President Obama said this afternoon in the White House Rose Garden. "You have won your revolution," Obama said. "One of the world's longest-serving dictators is no more."
Vice Presiden Joe Biden said in a speech he saw useful lessons in how the U.S. and NATO carried out the Libyan mission. "In this case, America spent billion total and didn't lose a single life," Biden was quoted by the Associated Press. "This is more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past."
In a statement, Nancy Pelosi said the news of Gaddafi's death "marks the next phase of Libya's march toward democracy.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on the other hand said his country had preferred Gaddafi to have been captured alive, "so that he could be brought to justice."
The French Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that the death of Gaddafi has brought about the end fo a tyranny for Libyans.
British Prime Minister David Cameron reminded that Thursday should be a day "to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi's victims."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi "a martyr" and said his death was "an outrage," AFP reports.
“Sadly the death of Gaddafi has been confirmed,” told reporters in La Grita. “They assassinated him. It is another outrage.. We shall remember Gaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr,” he said.
“The saddest thing is that in its quest to dominate the world, the empire and its allies are setting it on fire,” Chavez added, referring to the United States.
The Daily Beast interviewed Gaddafi's former Ukrainian nurse Oksana Balinskaya. She said she's devastated by his death and considers Gaddafi a "brave hero."
Read more on the interview on the Daily Beast Website.
Photo agency Getty obtained a series of photos that confirm the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The images show Gaddafi's dead body and Libyans taking photos of the body with their cell phones.Take a look at the photos here.
Warning: Graphic Images.
President Obama held a videoconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron on the developments in Libya and the European financial crisis.
According to the White House the four leaders welcomed the end of the Gaddafi regime and agreed today was "an extraordinary day for the NATO-led coalition and the Libyan people."
According to the Washington Post, Gaddafi was wearing a wig when he was found in the concrete pipes in Sirte.From the Washington Post:
At the hospital, Libyan officials ran a number of tests, including on hair samples for DNA, to prove the identity of the dictator who had been on the run for the last two months. The hair was not Moammar Gaddafi’s. The slain leader was wearing a wig.
Read the full story here.
Associated Press Reporters were outside the Libyan embassy in London, where demonstrators chanted and wept with joy.
"I was crying, I was shouting, I was smiling," Najwa Creui, a 40-year-old teacher who has lived in Britain for the past 16 years, told the Associated Press. "It's the day Libyans have been waiting for as long as I have been alive."
Libyans react to the death of Moammar Gadhafi outside the Libyan Embassy in London, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
A photo of Gaddafi in Sirte's ashes ...
Reuters reports the corpse of Gaddafi's son Mutassim was displayed in a private house in Misrata late Thursday night. According to the news service, local people had gathered around the body to take pictures on their cell phones.A Reuters reporter says:
The body was laid on blankets on the floor and covered up to the waist by a blue plastic sheet. The upper half was naked, and wounds could be seen to the chest and neck, the reporter said. Members of the public filed in, shouting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great." One person said: "This is the end of the tyrant."
GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann released the following statement today (via her official campaign website):
“For more than 40 years, we lived with the Muammar al-Qaddafi regime and the atrocities he orchestrated. The world is a better place without Qaddafi. It is my hope that Qaddafi’s reign of terror will be replaced with a government that respects the people of Libya and one that will be a good partner with the United States. Hopefully, today will also bring to an end our military involvement there, something I opposed from its beginning.”
They confirmed that one of Gaddafi's sons, Mo'tassim, had been killed and his body taken to Misrata, west of the city of Sirte where he and his father were captured. The officials said they did not know whether another son, Saif al-Islam, had been killed or captured alive.
Read more here.
|@ NBCNews : MT @AnnCurry US officials tell NBC News a US Predator drone fired hellfire missile at convoy carrying Khadafy, who was then captured.|
|@ BreakingNews : Libyan prime minister, citing forensic evidence report, says Gadhafi died from bullet wound to the head - Reuters|
|@ BreakingNews : More: Libyan prime minister says Gadhafi died a few minutes before reaching the hospital - @Reuters|
|@ BreakingNews : More: NTC official says no orders were given to kill Moammar Gadhafi, he was not killed intentionally - @Reuters|
|@ Reuters : FLASH: Muammar Gaddafi was killed in gunfight between his supporters and NTC fighters after capture – NTC official|
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi of the Dubai School of Government weighs in at The New York Times:
A second Arab dictator escaped accountability. And although his fate was far worse than others, the process of holding him accountable could have played an important role in Libya’s
reconciliation.But now with Qaddafi gone, it remains to be seen whether Libya’s diverse and heavily armored factions can work together. It won’t be easy. Even before Qaddafi’s death, Libya’s acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he would be quitting soon citing “a political
struggle with no boundaries.”
Read the whole thing here.
|@ BreakingNews : Libya's NTC to announce liberation of Libya on Saturday, NTC official says - @Reuters|
memoir, she offers details on her meeting with Muammar Gaddafi (via The Daily Beast)Gaddafi apparently had an "eerie fascination" with Rice, "asking
visitors why his 'African princess' wouldn’t visit him." He requested a meeting with her in his private tent, which she declined.
Here's a taste:
After several hours, we were summoned to the residence, where I greeted the Libyan leader and sat down to hundreds of camera flashes. Qaddafi said a few completely appropriate words, as did I, and the press left. We began the conversation as Amado had suggested, talking about Africa in general and Sudan in particular. Libya, he promised, would help with alternative routes for humanitarian supplies to the refugees. This is going pretty well, I thought. He doesn’t seem crazy. Then, as Amado had predicted, he suddenly stopped speaking and
began rolling his head back and forth.
Read the whole thing here.
BRUSSELS — NATO officials say the alliance's governing body will meet Friday to decide to end the seven-month bombing campaign over Libya.
NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the latest developments on the battlefield – the death of leader Moammar Gadhafi – "that moment has now moved much closer."
Read more here.
CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Ever since her 20-year-old daughter was blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb in 1988, Susan Cohen has been reading up daily on Moammar Gadhafi. She got the welcome news Thursday: He was dead.
And she planned to keep a promise she made to herself long ago.
"I'm just going to go out and buy an expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate," said Cohen, of the town of Cape May Court House.
Pan Am Flight 103 was carrying her daughter, Theodora, and 258 other people from London to New York when it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing all on board and 11 people on the ground. Many victims were Americans from New Jersey and New York flying home for the holidays.
The U.S. government implicated Gadhafi's regime, and a Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted as the mastermind. He was released from British captivity in 2009 on humanitarian grounds because he was supposedly near death.
Full story here.
Below is more footage reportedly showing Gaddafi's body.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Via Reuters India on Twitter:
|@ ReutersIndia : FLASH: Al Arabiya reports that Libya's interim govt plans to bury Muammar Gaddafi in a secret location|