Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years after coming to power in a coup, was killed Thursday by National Transitional Council fighters in his hometown Sirte.
Gaddafi, 69, begged for mercy as the fighters advanced menacingly. "Don't shoot," cried Gaddafi who cowered in a hole in which he was hiding. Television channels flashed images of a bloodied Gaddafi who was leaning against a fighter. Gaddafi died of his wounds Thursday, a National Transitional Council (NTC) field commander told Xinhua.
The commander, Mohemmed Buras Ali Al-Maknee, had earlier said that a group of fighters from the western Libyan city of Misrata captured Gaddafi, who had been severely injured. He had been injured in both his legs during the fierce battle at Sirte. Al-Jazeera TV quoted Abdel Hakim Belhaj, NTC's military chief in Tripoli, as confirming that Gaddafi had been killed.
As soon as the news of his capture spread, people were overjoyed. Ecstatic Libyans honked horns and celebrated on the streets. But his death has not yet been officially announced by the NTC high-ups.
The US too said that it was unable to confirm Gaddafi's death. US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told Xinhua that Washington "can not confirm at this time" the capture or death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The fall of Sirte and Gaddafi's death brought an end to a tumultuous period in Libya which witnessed an uprising that was inspired by the Egyptian revolt.
Gaddafi had come to power Sep 1, 1969. The "Free Officers Movement", a small group of military officers led by Gaddafi, staged a bloodless coup that toppled King Idris and established the Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi, whose forces were driven out of capital Tripoli by the now ruling NTC Aug 23, had been leading a strong resistance in the past months.
On June 27, the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity. On Sep 9, the international police agency Interpol issued Red Notice for the three.