Libya's ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi died of wounds Thursday after being shot in gun battles in his hometown, Sirte.
|People in Tripoli, capital of Libya, show their jubilation as the news came that former leader Muammar Gaddafi has been killed in battle with NTC troops in Sirte. [Xinhua]|
His death was confirmed by officials of the National Transitional Council (NTC), including head of its executive committee Mahmoud Jibril, and backed up by pictures of his corpse with eyes half-open, shirt torn apart and a bloodied face, televised by the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV.
At a press conference held in Tripoli, Jibril also announced that the NTC would announce the liberation of entire Libya later Thursday or Friday.
Earlier Thursday, Momhemed Buras Ali Al-Maknee, an NTC field commander, told Xinhua a group of fighters from the western Libyan city of Misrata captured Gaddafi in Sirte, who was then severely injured.
The Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV reported Gaddafi's corpse had arrived in Misrata.
Earlier, Al-Jazeera said NATO jets fired at a convoy of cars, possibly with Gaddafi onboard, fleeing Sirte.
The NTC troops and the people of the war-torn country celebrated as reports of Gaddafi's death filtered out, cheering and hoisting NTC flags, Xinhua reporters said.
The 69-year-old former leader, whose forces were driven from the capital Tripoli by the now ruling NTC on Aug. 23, had since been "leading resistance" against his foes from an undisclosed place in Libya, according to his spokesman.
On June 27, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity, and on Sept. 9, the international police agency, Interpol, issued a Red Notice for the three as requested by ICC.
Meanwhile, the NTC field commander told Xinhua that Gaddafi's son Mutassim was killed in Sirte, several hours after his father died of wounds. He had earlier said Mutassim was captured alive inside the town after NTC fighters overran Sirte's Number Two neighborhood where Gaddafi's loyalists had been cornered.
The commander also said NTC fighters had surrounded a place in Sirte where Gaddafi's second son, Saif al-Islam, was believed to be hiding.
The al-Jazeera TV footage also showed a body which it said belonged to Gaddafi's defense minister, Abu Bakr Younus.
Earlier Thursday, the network said NTC forces had reportedly overrun the last position held by troops loyal to Gaddafi in Sirte.
Gaddafi's death has drawn mixed international reactions, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailing that it "marks a historic transition of Libya."
In Brussels, a joint statement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Gaddafi's death "marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long."
"Today, Libya can turn a page in its history and embrace a new democratic future," it said.
The European Union called on the NTC to "pursue a broad-based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country."
In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Gaddafi's death held out the promise of a better future for the people he ruled for four decades. ' In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped peace would eventually arrive in Libya.
"All those who represent this country, various representatives of Libyan tribes, will be able to reach a final agreement on a configuration of power, and Libya will turn into a modern political country," Medvedev said at a joint press conference with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte in Moscow.
"Otherwise, all the efforts taken recently are senseless," Medvedev said.
In New Delhi, visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe hailed Gaddafi's death as the "end of 42 years of tyranny."
"The announcement of the death of Gaddafi and the collapse of Sirte is the end of a very difficult period for the Libyan people. It's the end of 42 years of tyranny, of a military conflict that has been very difficult for the Libyan people," Juppe said.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota voiced hope Thursday that violence in Libya would end soon following Gaddafi's death.
"Brazil expects violence in Libya to stop, military operations to cease, and the Libyan people to be able to follow its aspirations and wishes in a spirit of dialogue and national reconstruction," Patriota said.
The foreign minister made the remarks while accompanying President Dilma Rousseff on a trip to Angola. The president, however, has yet to make an official statement on the issue.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told Xinhua earlier in the day that Washington "can not confirm at this time" the capture or death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Nuland made the remarks through an e-mail to Xinhua.
In Addis Ababa, the African Union (AU) said it would seek to verify the death of Gaddafi.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra told reporters "We will check it, there are a number of press dispatches, even the one that stated he may have been killed; so let us find out from the authority incumbent."