“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” may have been former Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi’s final words, Reuters reports.
“Gaddafi’s body is with our unit in a car and we are taking the body to a secret place for security reasons,” Mohamed Abdel Kafi, a National Transitional Council official in the city of Misrata, told the wire service.
Al-Qaddafi was captured and killed fleeing his hometown of Sirte, Reuters said, citing National Transitional Council (NTC) official Abdel Majid Mlegta.
In late afternoon press conference in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister of Libya’s interim government made an official announcement.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he said. “Muammar al-Qaddafi has been killed.”
Reuters cited another military sources as saying al-Qaddafi was found hiding in a hole in the ground, not unlike former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The final al-Qaddafi stronghold of Sirte fell early this morning. The longtime strongman was reportedly shot in both legs. Mlegta said al-Qaddafi has succumbed to those injuries.
“He was also hit in his head,” he said. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”
Reports and images that have appeared throughout the day seem to point a single gunshot wound to the side of the head as the finishing blow. The Prague Post was not able to independently verify these reports at this time and NATO officials have not yet confirmed al-Qaddafi’s demise.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, traveling with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan, told The New York Times that the department was aware of the reports “on the capture or killing of Muammar al-Qaddafi” but that they cannot confirm them “at this time.”
However, even before Jibril’s press conference, Mahmoud Shammam, the chief TNC spokesman, was confirming what began as a trickle of media reports.
“A new Libya has been born today,” he said. ”This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving [al-Qaddafi] a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish.”
Abdel Rahman Busin, a military spokesman for the NTC, told reporters that “Sirte is fully liberated.” According to the Associated Press, NTC-loyal fighters killed at least 20 soldiers allied with al-Qaddafi as they tried to flee Sirte down the coastal highway, and captured at least 16 more. Rebel forces have reportedly hoisted their green, red and black flag over the town.
Al-Jazeera reports that Moussa Ibrahim, the former spokesman for al-Qaddafi’s government, was also captured near Sirte. A reporter for the Qatar-based television station claims to have seen a cell phone picture apparently depicting a bloodied al-Qaddafi, but said that he could not verify its authenticity. CNN, Al Jazeera and other news channels have also now broadcast images that appear to be of the deceased leader.
In Benghazi, the eastern city where the Libyan revolution began, crowds have reportedly gathered in the streets to celebrate al-Qaddafi’s death. Rebel forces toppled al-Qaddafi’s 42-year-old regime by taking the capital of Tripoli Aug. 23, and his hometown of Sirte was the last holdout under control of forces loyal to the former autocrat.