Reporting on Gaddafi’s death, Peter Beaumont writes: Witnesses said he perished pleading for mercy after being dragged out of a hiding place inside a concrete drain. According to one fighter, the dying Gaddafi demanded: “What have I done to you?”
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor who accompanied Gaddafi’s body in an ambulance as it was taken from Sirte, said he died from two shots, to the head and chest. “I can’t describe my happiness,” he told the Associated Press. “The tyranny is gone. Now the Libyan people can rest.
Amid the swirl of contradictory reports, one thing was clear: Gaddafi’s death was a humiliating end for a man once used to surrounding himself with cheering crowds of supporters. Video images that emerged showed him being bundled bloodied on to the back of a pick-up truck, surrounded by fighters waving guns and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
At first Gaddafi was apparently able to walk with assistance before being lifted on to the truck’s tailgate. A second clip, however, showed him lifeless. In the second sequence, the tunic over one of his shoulders was heavily bloodstained.
Also killed was one of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim, a military officer who had commanded the defence of Sirte for his father, according to NTC officials. Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, was also said to have been arrested, although the news could not immediately be confirmed.
After his death, Gaddafi’s body was taken – accompanied by a huge convoy of celebrating revolutionaries –to Misrata, two hours away. In Misrata – which itself went through a bitter siege during Libya’s eight-month civil war – the body was paraded through the streets on a truck, surrounded by crowds chanting, “The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain.”
Bouckaert said: “I followed the convoy with the body to Misrata, where it was displayed. I have seen a lot of celebrations in Libya but never one like this.”
Across Libya, as the news broke, there were celebrations. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” the Libyan prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, told a news conference.
In Tripoli there were volleys of celebratory gunfire as vast crowds waving the red, black and green national flag adopted by the NTC gathered in Martyr’s Square – once the setting for mass rallies in praise of the “Brother Leader”.
Jibril said: “We confirm that all the evils, plus Gaddafi, have vanished from this beloved country. It’s time to start a new Libya, a united Libya. One people, one future.” A formal declaration of liberation would be made by Friday, he added later.
The death of Gaddafi and the fall of Sirte opens the way to national elections which – it had already been announced – would take place eight months after “full liberation” had been achieved.
Reuters now reports: The circumstances of the death of Gaddafi, who had vowed to go down fighting, remained obscure. Jerky video showed a man with Gaddafi’s distinctive long, curly hair, bloodied and staggering under blows from armed men, apparently NTC fighters.
The brief footage showed him being hauled by his hair from the hood of a truck. To the shouts of someone saying “Keep him alive,” he disappears from view and gunshots are heard.
“While he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him,” a senior source in the NTC told Reuters before [Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud] Jibril [reading what he said was a post-mortem report] spoke of crossfire. “He might have been resisting.”
Ahmed Al Omran, a Saudi blogger working for NPR in Washington, says this video shows protesters in Homs singing, “The death of Qaddafi is a lesson to all tyrants.” (H/t Robert Mackey.)