Gaddafi KILLED; Libya’s military head confirms
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has died of wounds suffered in his capture near his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, a senior NTC military official said.
USAfrica newsroom also monitored the first video showing his death as broadcast a few minutes ago (around 8:45am Houston time) by Al Jazeera Arab news channel.
National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked.
“He was also hit in his head,” the official said. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”
Abdul Hakim Al Jalil, commander of the 11th brigade, also said he had seen the body of the chief of Gaddafi’s armed forces, Abu Bakr Younus Jabr.
“I’ve seen him with my own eyes,” he said and showed Reuters a picture of Jabr’s body. “Moussa Ibrahim was also captured and both of them were transferred to (our) operations room.”
Meanwhile, Libyan officials and NATO say they cannot confirm reports from revolutionary fighters that ousted Libyan leader was captured or killed in the fall of his hometown.
The spokesman for Libya’s transitional government, Jalal al-Gallal, and its military spokesman Abdul-Rahman Busin say the reports have not been confirmed. A NATO official also said the alliance could not independently confirm.
“We are checking and assessing the situation,” a NATO official said. “Clearly these are very significant developments, which will take time to confirm. If it is true, then this is truly a historic day for the people of Libya.”
White House officials are monitoring reports that Gaddafi has been captured in Libya, but are unable to confirm the status of the former Libyan leader.
The capture of Sirte means Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would start after the city, built as a showpiece for Gaddafi’s rule, had fallen.
The US State Department on Thursday said it could not confirm that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been captured and wounded in both legs.
“We’ve seen the media reports but can’t confirm them,” State Department spokeswoman Beth Gosselin told Reuters.
The senior NTC military official also told Reuters by telephone that the head of Gaddafi’s armed forces Abu Bakr Younus Jabr had been killed during the capture of the Libyan ex-leader.
Gaddafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians, is in hiding, possibly deep in Libya’s southern Sahara desert.
He was toppled by rebel forces on August 23 after 42 years of one-man rule over the oil-producing North African state.
“Sirte has been liberated. There are no Gaddafi forces any more,” said Colonel Yunus Al Abdali, head of operations in the eastern half of the city. “We are now chasing his fighters who are trying to run away.”
Government 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.
‘Free from east to west’
“Libya is free from east to west,” cried a young fighter Malik Al Gantri, a young fighter from Tripoli who had been in the battle for Sirte for two weeks. “I hope to go home now,” he said. “I want to see my mother.”
Hundreds of NTC fighters gathered in the centre of Sirte shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”), firing guns into the air and dancing in the streets. One of them, a man aged 65 and blind in one eye, rode around on a mountain bike and carrying an AK47 assault rifle and a Libyan flag.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Al Sharash Thawban. “The whole city of Sirte is freed from that criminal Gaddafi.”
But a group of about 40 vehicles carrying around 100 Gaddafi loyalists broke out of the siege early on Thursday morning and had headed west, NTC fighters said.
“They broke out just as we were waking up to pray,” said Dr Abdul Rauf Mohammad, who was among the NTC troops. “The Gaddafi people broke out west, but the revolutionaries have them surrounded and are dealing with them,” said one of the fighters, Abdul Salam Mohammad.
Dozens of NTC pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns raced towards the west in pursuit and the sound of shooting could be heard coming from that direction.
Inside what had been the last redoubt of Gaddafi’s men, an area of low-rise apartment blocks known as Neighbourhood Two, was a scene of destruction: gaping holes in buildings, trees stripped of their branches, lamp-posts felled by artillery and traffic lights dangling by their cables.
Reuters saw five dejected-looking Gaddafi prisoners marched down a street, guarded by NTC fighters.
Hundreds of NTC troops have surrounded the Mediterranean coastal town for weeks in a chaotic struggle that has 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 Gaddafi troops, but it was not immediately possible to verify the claim.
Thousands of civilians have fled Sirte which had a peacetime population of 75,000 and now lies largely in ruins from the rocket, artillery and tank fire which rained down on the town for weeks. (Reuters, AP, AFP, Ynet, reports formed sources for this report)
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