Muammar Gaddafi is dead, says Libyan PM


Former Libyan dictator reportedly killed as government forces overrun home town of Sirte
James Meikle
and agencies

    Unverified footage of Gaddafi’s body caught on camera phone

    Muammar Gaddafi has been killed as his home town of Sirte was overrun by fighters seeking to complete the eight-month uprising in Libya, the interim prime minister has announced.
    The former dictator reportedly died from wounds in his head and legs. It was unclear whether he was hit in a Nato air strike on a convoy fleeing Sirte, a firefight on the ground, or in concrete tunnels in the town itself.
    Later Libya’s UK representative said Gaddafi was alive when captured and died in an ambulance on the way to the city of Misrata.
    The Libyan prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, told a news conference in Tripoli: “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed.”

    A US official said Libyan leaders had confirmed his death to Washington, the AP agency reported at 3.15pm UK time.


    In London, the Libyan charge d’affaires, Mahmud Nacua, told a press conference it was “a glorious and momentous victory”.

    “Today Libya’s future begins. Gaddafi’s black era has come to an end for ever,” he said. “The Libyan people are looking forward to a very promising future where they can finally start building the free democratic state for which they have fought for about eight months now. Our people have paid a high price. About 40,000 martyrs have given their lives for the freedom of their country.

    “We very much appreciate the help of the international community to get rid of Gaddafi and his crimes.”

    Earlier, pictures showing what was said to be the body of the dead and bleeding Gaddafi appeared on television as Nato and US officials tried to confirm his death. Some showed it being dragged through the streets of Sirte.

    Gaddafi’s son Muatassim was also reported to have been killed or captured in Sirte, the stronghold of pro-Gaddafi forces. Later he was said to have been seen covered in blood but alive. Another son, Saif al-Islam, was said to be have been surrounded after fleeing Sirte.

    Gaddafi’s body was reportedly transferred to Misrata. A large crowd surrounded the vehicle as it arrived, chanting “the blood of the martyrs will not go in vain”.

    First reports of Gaddafi’s capture came soon after noon UK time and within an hour there were claims he was dead.

    The convoy in which Gaddafi might have been travelling was hit by a Nato airstrike at 6am British time. Two Nato aircraft bombed the vehicles as they fled Sirte. Neither were British planes, though two Tornado ground attack aircraft were on surveillance and reconnaissance missions at the time.

    A National Transitional Council (NTC) official, Abdel Majid Mlegta, told Reuters. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”

    The NTC spokesman in Misrata, Abdullah Berrassali, told Sky News: “Gaddafi is dead, absolutely dead. He was shot in both legs and a bullet in the head. The body will be arriving in Misrata any minute now.”

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said if the reports were true she would breathe a sigh of relief as one more obstacle was removed. Even before confirmation that Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was dead, Senator John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the last presidential election, called it “an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution”.

    Gaddafi was wanted by the international criminal court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians.

    He was at one time believed to be hiding deep in the Sahara desert. His wife, two sons and a daughter fled to neighbouring Algeria shortly after Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August. Only on Wednesday, a day before his death, Gaddafi was said by Jibril to have been recruiting fighters from other countries in an effort to destabilise the regime that replaced him.

    David Cameron said he was proud of the role Britain had played in Gaddafi’s downfall: “I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims, from those who died in connection with the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie to Yvonne Fletcher in a London street and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan Semtex.

    “We should also remember the many, many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator and his regime. People in Libya today have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future.

    “I’m proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who have helped to liberate their country. We will help them, we will work with them and that is what I want to say today.”

    Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the Lockerbie bombing, said an “opportunity has been lost” to find out the truth about the atrocity.

    He told Sky News: “There is much still to be resolved about that issue and Gaddafi, whether he was involved or not, might have been able to clear up a few points about that and now that he is dead we may have lost an opportunity for getting nearer to the truth.

    “Although we have not a scrap of evidence that Gaddafi himself was involved in causing the Lockerbie atrocity, my take on that was that he would have at least known who was.

    “I would have loved to have seen Gaddafi appear in front of the International Criminal Court both to answer charges against his gross treatment of his own people and of citizens murdered abroad by his thugs.”

    Russia’s presidential envoy to Libya warned that Gaddafi’s death might not end the fighting in Libya.

    “Today’s problem of Libya is not the problem of Gaddafi’s life or death,” Mikhail Margelov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. “This is a problem of consolidating fragmented Libyan society and of strengthening the armed forces.”

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