Muammar Gaddafi has been killed after Libyan rebels captured his stronghold in the city of Sirte, it was confirmed today.
As news of his death swept through the country and across the world, bloody images of the 69-year-old tyrant slumped across the legs of a revolutionary fighter emerged.
Libya’s prime minister Mahmoud Jibril this afternoon confirmed the former dictator was dead.
‘We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,’ he said. ‘Muammar Gaddafi has been killed’
The new was also welcomed by David Cameron who said he was ‘proud’ of the role Britain had played in protecting Libyan civilians.
Gaddafi is the first leader to be killed in the Arab Spring wave of popular uprisings that swept the Middle East
The revolutionary offensive began around 8am local time and progressed quickly into the town centre.
Gaddafi had been barricaded in with his heavily armed loyalists in the last few buildings they held west of the central Green Square.
Nato airstrikes and revolutionary ground forces concentrated on a compound in that area of the town.
National Transitional Council (NTC) soldiers said that a convoy of at least five vehicles tried to leave the town in the early morning, but it came under sustained fire – first from a Hellfire missile and then from French fighters jets which were part of the Nato force.
The vehicles were forced to return to the loyalist-controlled area as battle continued.
Gaddaffi, already injured, was found a short time later in a large storm-water drain, and fighter Mohammed Al Bibi told reporters that the toppled tyrant had pleaded ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot’ as he attempted to surrender.
He had been wounded in the legs. NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta said: ‘He [Gaddafi] was also hit in his head. There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.’
Mobile phone footage, released shortly after the news of his capture broke, appears to show a bloodied Gaddafi being manhandled.
Al Jazeera was also repeatedly showing footage of what appeared to be Gaddafi’s shirtless and lifeless body being dragged along the ground.
The body was then taken to the nearby city of Misrata, which Gaddafi’s forces besieged for months in one of the bloodiest fronts of the civil war.
Al-Arabiya TV showed footage of Gaddafi’s bloodied body carried on the top of a vehicle surrounded by a large crowd chanting: ‘The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain.’
Rebels said he had been armed with a golden handgun when he was found and was wearing a khaki uniform. Later images showed young revolutionary soldiers sheering an holding a golden handgun.
The reports of Gaddafi’s capture came on the same day that revolutionary forces said that they had taken control of Sirte – the leader’s home town.
Initial reports from CNN and the National Transitional Council (NTC) said Gaddafi was in custody, while Al Jazeera reported that a ‘big fish’ had been caught but did not provide a name. Al Jazeera later joined Al-Arabiya in saying that Gaddafi had been killed, but did not provide any further information.