Qaddafi Is Dead, Libyan Officials Say

By Kareem Fahim for The New York Times

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago in the Arab Spring’s most tumultuous uprising, was killed Thursday as fighters battling the vestiges of his loyalist forces wrested control of his hometown of Surt, the interim government announced.

Al Jazeera television showed what it said was Colonel Qaddafi’s corpse as jubilant fighters in Surt fired automatic weapons in the air, punctuating an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.

Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared in Tripoli as residents poured into the streets to celebrate.

Mahmoud Shammam, the chief spokesman of the Transitional National Council, the interim government that replaced Colonel Qaddafi’s regime after he fled Tripoli in late August, confirmed that Colonel Qaddafi was killed, though he did not provide other details.

“A new Libya is born today,” he said. “This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish.”

Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Tripoli military council, said on Al Jazeera that anti-Qaddafi forces had Colonel Qaddafi’s body.

It was not clear precisely how he died. Mohamed Benrasali, a member of the national council’s Tripoli Stabilization Committee, said fighters from Misurata who were deployed in Surt told him that Colonel Qaddafi was captured alive in a car leaving Surt. He was badly injured, with wounds in his head and both legs, Mr. Benrasali said, and died soon after.

Colonel Qaddafi had defied repeated attempts to corner and capture him, taunting his enemies with audio broadcasts denouncing the rebel forces that felled him as stooges of NATO, which conducted a bombing campaign against his military during the uprising under the auspices of a Security Council mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

Libya’s interim leaders had said they believed that some Qaddafi family members including the colonel himself and some of his sons had been hiding in Surt or in Bani Walid, another loyalist bastion that the anti-Qaddafi forces captured earlier this week.

There was no immediate comment on the news of his death from American officials. .

Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Afghanistan, said the department was aware of the reports “on the capture or killing of Muammar Qaddafi.”

There was also no immediate comment from Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the interim government’s top official. But he had said that the death or capture of Colonel Qaddafi would allow him to declare the country liberated and in control of its borders, and to start a process that would lead to a general election for a national council within eight months.

Libyan fighters said earlier on Thursday that they had routed the last remaining forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi from Surt, ending weeks of fierce fighting in that Mediterranean enclave east of Tripoli.

A military spokesman for the interim government, Abdel Rahman Busin, said, “Surt is fully liberated.”

The battle for Surt was supposed to have been a postscript to the Libyan conflict, but for weeks soldiers loyal to Colonel Qaddafi, fiercely defended the city, first weathering NATO airstrikes and then repeated assaults by anti-Qaddafi fighters. Former rebel leaders were caught off guard by the depth of the divisions in western Libya, where the colonel’s policy of playing favorites and stoking rivalries has resulted in a series of violent confrontations.

Surt emerged as the stage for one of the war’s bloodiest fights, killing and injuring scores on both sides, decimating the city and leading to fears that the weak transitional leaders would not be able to unify the country.

The battle turned nearly two weeks ago, when the anti-Qaddafi fighters laid siege to an enormous convention center that the pro-Qaddafi troops had used as a base.

The interim leaders had claimed that the ongoing fighting had prevented them from focusing on other pressing concerns, including the proliferation of armed militias that answered to no central authority.

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and J. David Goodman and Rick Gladstone from New York.

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  1. I think Colonel is dead if we believe the news reports. However again Libya is like Afghanistan consisting of fierce tribal clans who have a warring group affiliated to each of them. One could classify them in majority Gaddafi block in the Western Libya and this so called rebel groups from eastern Bengazi area. Gaddafi kept them under control by force due to absolute incompatibility with each other. My brother worked in Libya for seven long year as Prof of Pediatrics felt sorry for Libyans. His feeling for Gaddafi was very positive.

    Now that Gaddafi is dead, the bigger questions will be two: One that to rebuild the war torn Libya. Second to control the internecine feuds between the many heterogenous warlords who are habituated to living their lives as tribal heads in
    independent medieval style. Both these things are going to be difficult in the first place and the Western Nations alongwith NATO will be severely criticised by the international community to destroy yet another nation. Iraq is still not able to recover and there are continuous reports of infights.

    In the Muslim world and especially the radical Islamist organisations like Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hafiz Saeed and Inc and other innumerable Islamist militant groups all over the Muslim world operating with impunity and in the rest of the world under cover of sleeper cells; will get another excuse to incite hatred against US and its allies to recruit more militants to attack these countries as a backlash.

    Assassination of Gaddafi will embolden both the Western blocks as well as the hardline Islamists blocks against each other. I shall not be surprised if there is another 9/11 in US and European countries enacted by Al Qaeda and its other
    affiliate groups. On the other hand, Western block may harden their stance against Iran, Pakistan and Hamas blocks. These divergent forces may collide against each other to escalate into a major world conflict.

    Other conditions in US and its allied nations is ripening up with worst economic recession, unemployment, home unrest and developping other Middle East events are going to add up to fuel the bonfire. I have a feeling that another sinister development in Pakistan with its support to Haqqanis is not a good indication at all. US is or will impose conditions on Pakistan that may prove counterproductive. Pakistan will not leave Afghanistan alone for sure.

    Americans want to get out of Afghanistan which is bleeding its economy in this expensive war for last decade long battle. The Wall Street protesters in US
    and rest of Europe will provide the Militants an easy opportunity to sneek into these nations to take a stronghold to strike 9/11s in the near future. They will love to do it as revenge against West for their invasion of the Muslim nations. All this will compound into the major conflict. I am studying these events for a long time and this building up of events is the best cummulative situation for a spark.

    Events over the next year will show up more between the Western Nations on one hand and the Muslim world, especially the developments in Af/Pak, Iran and Israel/Palestine bed and will determine a lot. Other Middle East/African nations are slowly going to add up to the vows of the West.

    • Indeed these are historical and momentous times we are witnessing. Thanks for your patronage of this site doctor, It goes to show you that Indians and Pakistanis can agree on things and talk as civilized people as we do. Hope to see the same happen between India and Pakistan within my lifetime.

      • Thanks dear for your views but my worries are that we are living in a globalised community today. The whole world has become a small village. The national politics of any country except China, Russia and their allied partners, the rest of the countries are still dominated by the Western super power. This is the reason for their outcry for a (lame) democracy so that they can easily exploit them.

        India has almost as many Muslims as in Pakistan. Pakistan being an offshoot of India and despite it being an Islamic Republic, the life style of average person in both countries is more or less similar. Hence both nations need to work out a common ground to survive. I am very hopeful but it certainly needs a drastic change in the mindsets. Regards

  1. October 20th, 2011

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