Libya’s prime minister says Moammar Kadafi is dead
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REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Libya’s provisional prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said Thursday that ousted leader Moammar Kadafi has been killed.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Jibril told a news conference in the capital, Tripoli, according to the Associated Press. ‘Moammar Kadafi has been killed.’
Unconfirmed reports of Kadafi’s capture and death have been filtering out since fighters for the transitional government captured Kadafi’s home town of Surt on Thursday. The coastal city, the last major bastion of support for Kadafi, fell two months after rebel forces took over Tripoli, sending the former strongman and many of his supporters into hiding or on the run.
There are conflicting accounts of how Kadafi was captured and apparently killed. One report indicated that he had been found hiding in Surt in what appeared to be a cement drainage pipe. Another said he was in a convoy bombed by NATO warplanes.
NATO said its aircraft struck two pro-Kadafi ‘military vehicles’ early Thursday but did not immediately confirm Kadafi’s death.
Al-Jazeera TV obtained video footage of what appeared to be a bloodied Kadafi, lying dead or severely wounded on the ground. The authenticity of the footage hasn’t been verified.
Word of Kadafi’s capture and demise prompted celebratory gunfire in Tripoli and Surt.
Reports that Kadafi had been hiding in Surt came as somewhat of a surprise. Most observers had assumed that he had fled to the southern Libyan hinterlands, a vast expanse where Kadafi was still said to have many allies and that could have provided a quick escape to sub-Saharan nations such as Niger and Chad.
Instead, he apparently decided to make a last stand in his hometown.
-- Patrick J. McDonnell