By HUMA KHAN
Oct. 20, 2011
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been killed, Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said today.
The flamboyant tyrant who terrorized his country and much of the world during his 42 years of despotic rule was reportedly cornered by insurgents in the town of Sirte, where Gadhafi was born and which was a stronghold of his supporters.
National Transition Council leaders said Gadhafi's son, Motassim, was also killed though another son, Saif Al-Islam, fled Sirte in a convoy. Three of Gadhafi's children are in Algeria, and NTC leaders say they will ask the neighboring country to send them back.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Moammar Gadhafi has been killed," Jibril said at a news conference in Tripoli.
He added that the rebel government will wait until later today or Friday to officially declare what it calls a state of liberation.
The National Transition Council earlier today said that its fighters found and shot Gadhafi in Sirte, which finally fell to the rebels today after weeks of tough fighting. Rebels now control the entire country.
An NTC fighter who says he shot Gadhafi told reporters the eccentric leader was carrying a golden pistol and pleaded to him not to shoot.
Word of Gadhafi's death triggered celebrations in the streets of Tripoli with insurgent fighters waving their weapons and dancing jubilantly.
The White House and NATO said they were unable to confirm reports of his death.
Al Jazeera aired video of what appeared to be the dead leader, which showed Gadhafi lying in a pool of blood in the street, shirtless, and surrounded by people.
Libya's Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the Associated Press that Gadhafi was in a convoy when he was attacked by rebels.
A NATO official said that its jet fighters struck two military vehicles "which were part of a larger group that was maneuvering in the vicinity of Sirte conducting military operations that presented a clear threat to civilians." But NATO would not confirm whether Gadhafi was part of that convoy.
Gadhafi had been on the run for weeks after being chased out of the capital Tripoli by NATO bombers and rebel troops.
He was believed to be hiding in the vast Libyan desert while calling on his supporters to rise up and sweep the rebel "dogs" away. But his once fearsome power was scoffed at by Libyans who had ransacked his palace compound and hounded him into hiding.
While reports of Gadhafi's death have been met with jubilation, Libya now faces a new challenge of establishing a government.
"Let us recognize immediately that this is only the end of the beginning," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Gadhafi, 69, ruled Libya with an iron fist for almost 42 years. He seized control of the country in Sept., 1969 in a bloodless coup when he was just 27 years old. The then young and dashing army captain and his small band of military officers overthrew the monarch King Idris, setting up a new Libyan Arab Republic that over the years became increasingly isolated from the rest of the world.
Gadhafi became an advocate of Arab and African unity, and openly declared his vision for a "United States of Africa." But his relationship with the western world was strained and Gadhafi instead became known as the top sponsor of terrorism and for harboring international fugitives.
At the height of his ability to threaten terrorism, President Ronald Reagan dubbed Gadhafi the "mad dog of the Middle East."