TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago, 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 gruesome footage of what it said was Colonel Qaddafi, alive but wounded and bloody, being dragged around by armed men in Surt. The television also broadcast a separate clip of his half-naked corpse, with lifeless open eyes and an apparent gunshot wound to the side of the head, as jubilant fighters fired automatic weapons in the air.
Conflicting accounts quickly emerged about whether Colonel Qaddafi was summarily executed, died from gunshot wounds, died from a NATO bomb blast or bled to death in an ambulance. But the images broadcast by Al Jazeera punctuated an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who had basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Qaddafi has been killed,” Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister of the Transitional National Council, the interim government, told a news conference in Tripoli. Mahmoud Shammam, the council’s chief spokesman, called it “the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish.”
Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared and residents poured into the streets in giddy disbelief in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebellion against Colonel Qaddafi began in February and escalated into the most violent of the Arab Spring uprisings.
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