End of an era for Libya: Qaddafi is killed in Sirte

Muammar Qaddafi, body is shown above in a video feed, has reportedly been killed in his hometown of Sirte. (Photo by AFP)

Former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi died of wounds suffered on Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month uprising against his rule overran his hometown of Sirte, Libya’s interim rulers said.

“We announce to the world that Qaddafi has been killed at the hands of the revolution,” Abdel Hafez Ghoga, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council said.

“It is a historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Qaddafi has met his fate,” he added.

An NTC official later said that Qaddafi will be burried in an unidentified place, Al Arabiya reported.

Al Arabiya reported that the body of the deposed Libyan leader had arrived in Misrata and was placed in the Tunisians’ Market.

Al Arabiya said it would be allowed to film the corpse. The network was citing its correspondent. Al Arabiya and other networks earlier broadcast a photograph that the interim government confirmed was the body of Qaddafi.

Qaddafi’s death, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the most dramatic single 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.”

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya correspondent reported that Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was wounded as he tried to flee Sirte and that he was detained by NTC fighters.

Earlier reported suggested that Saif al-Islam was killed in the final battle for Sirte.

Libya’s de facto prime minister Mahmoud Jibril had said that Saif al-Islam had been tracked down near the city of Sirte and that his convoy was under attack.

Speaking at a news conference in Tripoli, Jibril confirmed that Muammar Qaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years until August, had been killed after he was captured in Sirte.

“We confirm that all the evils, plus Qaddafi, have vanished from this beloved country. I think it’s for the Libyans to realize that it’s time to start a new Libya, a united Libya, one people, one future,” he said.

He also called on neighboring Algeria to hand over members of Gaddafi's family who fled there in August. Two of Qaddafi’s sons, his daughter and his wife are in Algeria.

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 came within minutes of the fall of Sirte, a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader.

Motassim Qaddafi

The dead body of Motassim Qaddafi.
The dead body of Motassim Qaddafi.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya showed the picture of the dead body of Qaddafi's son Motassim.

The new Libyan government’s television channel broadcast a close-up picture showing Motassim lying dead on a stretcher in what appeared to be a hospital.

Motassim’s head was tilted down and his long hair was hanging down from the stretcher. He was stripped to the waist. The television did not say where the picture was taken. The information minister with Libya’s interim government had earlier confirmed to Reuters that Motassim was dead and had been hiding with his father in Sirte.

Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports that he had been captured alive in Sirte, fighters in the field said.

“Our information from the commanders in the field is that Motassim Qaddafi has been captured alive in Sirte,” NTC’s information minister, Mahmoud Shammam, told Reuters.

“We found him dead. We put his body and that of [former defense 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.

In the meantime, another NTC commander said that Motassim was found dead in Sirte. Al Arabiya could not confirm the reports at the time.

Forging a new democratic system

Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi and his son Motassim at the United Nations. (File photo)
Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi and his son Motassim at the United Nations. (File photo)

The capture of Sirte and the death of Qaddafi mean Libya’s ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system, which it had said it would get under way 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.

NTC fighters hoisted the red, black and green national flag above a large utilities building in the center of a newly-captured Sirte neighborhood and celebratory gunfire broke out among their ecstatic and relieved comrades.

Hundreds of 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.

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.

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