Ding-dong, the tyrant of Libya is dead. It’s been a long time coming, but finally, the people of Libya can finally put the Gadhafi era behind them.
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.