Toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is dead, the Prime Minister of the country’s National Transitional Council government announced today.
Mahmoud Jibril told a press conference in the capital Tripoli: “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed.”
Gaddafi had been hunted for two months since the fall of Tripoli on August 23 and his death brings a definitive end to the revolution which began with street protests in February and was supported by airstrikes by Britain and other Nato states.
Officials of the National Transitional Council suggested Gaddafi died after being shot in the head and legs while trying to flee Sirte in a convoy which was targeted by Nato warplanes.
NTC vice-chairman Abdul Hafiz Ghoga told a news conference in Benghazi: “We announce to the world that Muammar Gaddafi has been killed at the hands of the revolutionaries. We will announce the liberation of Libya within hours, maybe sooner.”
Amid confusion on the ground, it was initially reported that Gaddafi had been wounded and taken into custody.
And there were also reports that the man who ruled Libya for 42 years may have been found cowering in a concrete pipe, begging not to be shot.
Gruesome images of a blood-stained man who resembled Gaddafi being dragged through the streets of Sirte were shown on Libyan television.
Libyan TV reported that Gaddafi’s body had been moved to the town of Misrata, scene of some of the fiercest fighting earlier in the rebellion which ousted him from power.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a Westminster lunch to return to 10 Downing Street, where he was being kept abreast of developments in Libya. He was expected to make a statement this afternoon.
The Ministry of Defence in London confirmed that Nato warplanes this morning attacked a convoy of vehicles fleeing Sirte.
It is not known whether Gaddafi was in any of the vehicles.
“It was targeted on the basis that this was the last of the pro-Gaddafi forces fleeing Sirte,” a spokesman said.
RAF fighters were not involved in the attack, although RAF reconnaissance aircraft were in the area.
There were scenes of wild jubilation in Sirte, which had been under siege for the past two months as final pockets of Gaddafi loyalists held out against the NTC forces.
The end came this morning in a couple of hours of fierce gun battles believed to have left many Gaddafi fighters dead, possibly including the head of the former regime’s armed forces, Abu Bakr Younus Jabr.