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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Qaddafi Is Dead, Libyan Officials Say

TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago in the Arab Spring’s most tumultuous uprising, was killed Thursday as fighters battling the vestiges of his loyalist forces wrested control of his hometown of Surt, the interim government announced.

Al Jazeera television showed what it said was Colonel Qaddafi’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.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Qaddafi has been killed,” Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister of the interim government, told a news conference in Tripoli.

Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebellion against Colonel Qaddafi began in February, as residents poured into the streets to celebrate.

Mahmoud Shammam, the chief spokesman of the Transitional National Council, the interim government that replaced Colonel Qaddafi’s regime after he fled Tripoli in late August, said: “This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish.”

Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Tripoli military council, said on Al Jazeera that anti-Qaddafi forces had Colonel Qaddafi’s body and were transporting it to an undisclosed location. Al Jazeera also quoted another unidentified official of the Transitional National Council as saying Mussa Ibrahim, the former spokesman of Colonel Qaddafi, had been captured near Surt.

There were unconfirmed reports that one of Colonel Qaddafi’s feared sons, Muatassim, had been captured or killed with his father. But the whereabouts of another son, Seif al-Islam, who has also been on the run since the fall of Tripoli, remained unclear.

It was also not clear precisely how Colonel Qaddafi died. Mohamed Benrasali, a member of the national council’s Tripoli Stabilization Committee, said fighters from Misurata who were deployed in Surt told him that Colonel Qaddafi was captured alive in a car leaving Surt. He was badly injured, with wounds in his head and both legs, Mr. Benrasali said, and died soon after.


Content Warning! Graphic video: Muammar Gaddafi killed

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