Thursday, October 20, 2011

Libyan forces 'capture Gaddafi'

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Sirte: "I have spoken to the man who says that he captured him... he said he found him hiding in a hole in the centre"
Commanders for Libya's transitional authorities say they have captured ousted leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Unconfirmed reports say Col Gaddafi has been killed, and AFP news agency obtained a mobile-phone image allegedly showing his face covered in blood.

The reports came after transitional forces claimed control of Sirte, Col Gaddafi's birthplace.
The colonel was toppled in August after 42 years in power. The International Criminal Court is seeking his arrest.

"He's captured. He's wounded in both legs," National Transitional Council (NTC) official Abdel Majid told Reuters news agency.

At the scene

If the reports of Col Gaddafi's capture are true, then Mohammed al-Bibi is the man of the moment. Brandishing a golden pistol which he said belonged to Colonel Gaddafi he was hoisted up onto the shoulders of his comrades.

"Allah akbar" (God is great), they chanted as they unleashed volleys into the air. Mohammed, a fighter in his 20s, wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, said he had found the colonel hiding in a hole in the ground. He told the BBC that the former Libyan leader said to him simply: "Don't shoot".

Rebel fighters say the colonel has been taken by ambulance to Misrata. If this is the case and the rest of Sirte has indeed fallen then it will mark a turning point for Libyan revolution - the point at which it will be hoped, the fighting ends and the political process begins.

"He's been taken away by ambulance." 

AFP news agency quoted another NTC official, Mohamed Leith, as saying that Col Gaddafi had been captured in Sirte and was "seriously wounded" but still breathing.

A soldier who says he captured Muammar Gaddafi told the BBC the colonel had shouted: "Don't shoot!"

But NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters news agency that the former leader had been shot in the head and killed as he tried to flee.

Reuters also quoted another NTC commander, Abdul Hakim al-Jalil, as saying that Col Gaddafi's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim had been captured and the head of his armed forces, Abu Bakr Younus Jabr, had been killed, but again this has not been independently verified.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Tripoli says ships and cars have been sounding their horns in the capital and guns are being fired in celebration.

Earlier, NTC commanders in Sirte - about 360km (220 miles) east of Tripoli - said the city had been liberated.
Mobile phone image alleged to be of Muammar Gaddafi - 20/10/11  
A image from a mobile phone apparently showing Col Muammar Gaddafi wounded
"There are no Gaddafi forces any more," Col Yunus al-Abdali told Reuters. "We are now chasing his fighters who are trying to run away."

There was no confirmation from the NTC leadership.

But fighters in Sirte celebrated by firing in the air, and chanting "Allah akbar" ("God is great").

Interim government forces had been facing heavy resistance from snipers in the city, and used heavy artillery during its offensive. Thousands of civilians have fled.

The NTC has also suffered heavy casualties in the town of Bani Walid, south-east of Tripoli, in recent weeks.

On Monday the NTC said it had captured 90% of the town, including the centre.
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