Reports coming from Libya have been notoriously sketchy, so some caution should be exercised. Plus, Seif al-Islam al-Gadhafi got away from capture after the rebels left him in a room with an underground tunnel, so even if this story is correct it may not be the end of the story. But all reports from Sirte today indicate that Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for over four decades, has been captured and, according to some reports, killed, as the Libyan rebels took control of Sirte, the final holdout among major cities in the country.
The BBC had a report from the ground in Sirte, with celebratory gunfire going off in the background. Gabriel Gatehouse spoke with Mohammed el-Bebe, the young rebel fighter who reportedly captured Gadhafi. The former dictator was hiding in a hole the center of Sirte, his hometown, and asked not to be shot. He was immediately taken to an ambulance and driven to Misrata, about 200 miles away. The Reuters report indicates that Gadhafi died on the way to Misrata, from a gunshot wound to the head. The BBC report only says that Gadhafi, in his late 60s, was wounded in both legs. Reuters says that Gadhafi tried to escape Sirte, which had been overrun by rebels, in a convoy that came under attack from NATO planes. Libyan TV also announced the capture of Gadhafi.
There is a graphic cell phone picture of Gadhafi that an National Transitional Council military official confirmed as legitimate. Al Arabiya will be allowed to photograph the body of the former leader.
The trajectory of this is that more and more reports are confirming the death of Gadhafi, but let’s wait and see.
Captured or killed, with Gadhafi out of the scene, NATO military involvement in Libya is likely to come to an end, and the TNC can get on with the difficult business of forming a new government. They have been criticized by Amnesty International and others for human rights violations with the capture of prisoners and revenge killings. So challenges remain for the NTC. But having Gadhafi out of the picture is a relief for them.
UPDATE: Another unconfirmed pic from Al Jazeera.
UPDATE II: Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced that Gadhafi has been killed.