Gadhafi killed in crossfire, Libyan PM says

Moammar Gadhafi was killed when he was shot in the head during crossfire between rebel fighters and the ousted Libyan leader's forces, the prime minister of the Libyan transitional government said Thursday.

Gadhafi dies

11 years ago
Duration 3:19
Ousted Libyan leader killed during crossfire, transitional government says

Moammar Gadhafi was killed when he was shot in the head during crossfire between rebel fighters and the ousted Libyan leader's forces, the prime minister of the Libyan transitional government said Thursday.

According to Reuters, Mahmoud Jibril told a news conference that Gadhafi was taken out of a sewage pipe in his hometown of Sirte as it fell to revolutionary fighters

He added that Gadhafi didn't show any resistance.

"When we started moving him, he was hit by a bullet in his right arm and when they put him in a truck, he did not have any other injuries," Jibril told a news conference, according to Reuters.

"When the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gadhafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head," Jibril said reading from a forensic report.

Jibril said the forensic doctor could not tell if the bullet came from Gadhafi's forces or the rebels. The prime minister said Gadhafi died before reaching hospital.

Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor who was part of the medical team that accompanied the body in the ambulance and examined it, had earlier said Gadhafi died from two bullet wounds, to the head and chest.

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Jibril said the official liberation of Libya could be declared Thursday, or Friday at the latest, by transitional government chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

Amateur video footage purported to be of Gadhafi shows the former leader, bloodied, on top of the hood of a pickup truck, held there by fighters. He is then stood upright from the truck, and pushed along by the fighters on a Sirte roadside.

"We want him alive. We want him alive," one man shouts before Gadhafi is dragged away, some fighters pulling his hair, toward an ambulance. Later footage showed fighters rolling Gadhafi's lifeless body over on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of blood under his head.

Al-Jazeera later aired footage it says shows Gadhafi after his death. CBC News could not verify the authenticity of the images.

Libyan Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said: "Our people in Sirte saw the body."

"Revolutionaries say Gadhafi was in a convoy and that they attacked the convoy," he said.

The body of Gadhafi is reported to have been taken to the city of Misrata, which was besieged for months by Gadhafi loyalists. Al-Arabiya TV aired video of the body being carried on a vehicle surrounded by chanting crowds.

"The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain," the crowd shouted.

World reacts

World leaders say they will work with Libyans as they try to move forward and build a democracy after Gadhafi's death.

U.S. President Barack Obama referred to Gadhafi's death as a "momentous day in the history of Libya.'

"Today we can definitively say that the Gadhafi regime has come to an end,"  Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden.

Obama said the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an "inclusive, tolerant and democratic" Libya.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper heralded the day's developments, saying Gadhafi will "never again be in a position to support terrorism or to allow others to fire on his own citizens."

"The people of Libya can finally turn the page after 42 years of a chapter of terrible oppression, and it can now seek a better future," he said from the foyer of the House of Commons.

Harper said he would speak within days with the country's allies about ending the military mission to support the Libyan forces who rose up against Gadhafi.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the death of Gadhafi marks a "historic transition" for Libya.

"Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace, he said. "This is the time for healing and rebuilding — for generosity of spirit, not for revenge." 

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said the people in Libya now have an even greater chance of building a strong and democratic future.

"I'm proud of the role that  Britain has played to help them to bring that about, and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who helped to liberate their country," Cameron said. "We will help them and we will work with them."

Abubaker Karmos, the Libyan chargé d'affaires in Ottawa, called it a great day that the Libyan people have been waiting on for a long time.

"It marks the end of a ruthless dictatorship and tyranny. And hopefully it will mark the day of the new Libya that all the Libyan people want," Karmos said.

Last bastion

Reports of Gadhafi's end came as Sirte, the last pocket of resistance by fighters loyal to him, fell to revolutionary forces on Thursday followed a final 90-minute battle.

A NATO spokesman said NATO aircraft struck two pro-Gadhafi forces military vehicles Thursday morning. The vehicles were part of a larger convoy moving in the Sirte area, the statement said. The statement does not provide any detail on whether Gadhafi was in the convoy.

France's defence minister later said the fighter jet that attacked the convoy was French. Gerard Longuet told reporters in Paris that Libyan gunmen on the ground then intercepted the vehicles, which included one carrying Gadhafi.

Fathi Bashaga, spokesman for the Misrata military council, whose forces were involved in the Sirte siege, said fighters encircled the convoy and exchanged fire with several of the vehicles. In one, they found Gadhafi, wounded in the neck, and took him to an ambulance.

"What do you want?" Gadhafi said to the fighters, Bashaga said, citing witnesses.

Anti-Gadhafi fighters celebrate the fall of Sirte. Libyan interim government fighters captured Moammar Gadhafi's home town on Thursday, extinguishing the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader and ending a two-month siege. ((Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters))

Following initial reports of the deposed leader's capture, NTC fighters rejoiced in the streets of Sirte. They cheered and fired rounds of ammunition into the air.

Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya reported that Mo'tassim Gadhafi, a son of the deposed leader, was captured alive in Sirte, although Reuters later reported that he had been killed by NTC fighters. Another son, Saif al-Islam, was reported to be surrounded by NTC fighters after he tried to flee Sirte.

Freelance reporter Saleh Sarrar told CBC News from Tripoli that people were rejoicing at the end of Gadhafi.

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"You can hear the horns of the cars," Sarrar said. "People are very, very, very happy with this kind of news."

Months of struggle

Protests against Gadhafi, who has ruled the North African nation since 1969, began in February, part of a wave of protests in the Arab world.

Gadhafi urged Libyans to stand with him and battle the revolutionary forces, who set up in the eastern city of Benghazi.  For months, rebel fighters clashed with Gadhafi loyalists, with each side struggling to gain ground in drawn-out battles that raged indifferent cities, including Misrata, Brega and Ajdabiya. 


Readers react to Moammar Gadhafi's death

"Lets hope for some peace and democracy for the people of Libya," says Kensyen.

"He needed to stand trial at the International Court of The Hague. His people had to have an opportunity to testify to his cruelty," said lilthomas.

Read more comments in our Community blog.

In March, the UN Security Council authorized a mission to protect civilians against Gadhafi's forces, which included a no-fly zone and airstrikes. Canada joined the effort, sending equipment and military staff to a base in Italy. (Shortly after news of Gadhafi's death broke, CBC News learned that Canada's combat mission in Libya will end in the next two weeks.)

The international community made other moves against the longtime leader, including freezing family assets and issuing an international arrest warrant for Gadhafi and some of his key advisers, including his son Seif al-Islam.

Even as the international community moved against him, the longtime Libyan leader vowed to fight on, issuing audio recordings urging his supporters to take on the fighters seeking to oust him from power.

In late August, after months of fighting, rebel forces swept into the capital, eventually taking control of the city.

Not long after the seizure of Tripoli, Gadhafi's wife and some of his children fled to neighbouring Algeria. Gadhafi's whereabouts were still not known, but the defiant former ruler issued another audio recording to supporters in September, urging them to keep fighting.

The interim government continued the fight, trying to drive Gadhafi supporters out of his few remaining strongholds, including Sirte.

With files from The Associated Press