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 lying on the ground, with a bloodied face, lifeless open eyes and an apparent gunshot wound to the side of the head, as jubilant fighters fired automatic weapons in the air. The images 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 interim government, told a news conference in Tripoli.
Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebellion against Colonel Qaddafi began in February, 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, said: “This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish.”