THE TYRANT GADDAFI HAS BEEN KILLED BY REBELS
Libyans are rejoicing at the news that once-feared dictator Muammar Gaddafi has been killed in his hometown of Sirte. Keep updated with the latest developments here. All times in AEDT.
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11.41am: Australian Libyans have shared in the joy of their countrymen and women at news of Gaddafi’s death. NSW student Fouad Elgahwash told AAP he dreamt that Libya would become a new nation.
The 39-year-old Libyan national, who is studying at the University of Wollongong, said his brother was among the rebel fighters in the town of Sirte when Gaddafi was captured. “I called my brother maybe five o’clock this morning, he told me we have got Gaddafi at Sirte and they’ve killed him,” Elgahwash told AAP.
“I think Libyan people at the moment are so happy because Gaddafi can’t dictate anymore. “I’m very happy, you know, because I’m Libyan. Now we can renew and rebuild a new Libya.”
Elgahwash said his brother had since returned safely to his family in the northwestern city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli. “(They’re feeling) very, very, very happy because they don’t have to fight anymore,” Elgahwash said. “My dream is to make a new Libya. That there’s no jihad, there’s no killing, just open the doors … to make a new community in the world, a new country.”
11.18am: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released a statement, hailing Gaddafi’s death as a “day of relief” for the country of Libya.
“Australia recognises today as a day of relief in Libya as the long war of liberation comes to an end. Australia also recognises today as a beginning as well as an end.
“The work to unite Libya and to repair its economy and its town and cities will take some time. We stand ready to continue this assistance.”
Her words were echoed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
“He was one of the world’s worst dictators and I think the world is well rid of him,” Mr Abbott told the Nine Network. “The hope now must be that the people of Libya can now enjoy a relatively free and fair society.”
11.03am: Speculation continues to swirl about Gaddafi’s final moments. CBS news reports his final words were:
- “Don’t kill me. Don’t kill my sons.”
Others reports quoted the dictator saying:
- “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” and turning to a rebel soldier, asking
- “What did I ever do to you?”
Interim Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told Reuters the dictator was shot in the arm as he was hauled from his drain pipe hiding spot and into a waiting truck. The truck was then “caught in crossfire” as it ferried the 69-year-old to hospital. “He was hit by a bullet in the head,” Jibril said, adding it was unclear which side had fired the fatal shot.
But a National Transitional Council source told Reuters he was attacked while being dragged away. “While he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him.”
In a telephone interview with NPR, Jibril went on to say: “Nobody can tell if the [fatal] shot was from the rebel fighters or from his own security guard.”
10.36am: Gaddafi’s death has had surprisingly little impact on the oil price, despite the development likely leading to a full restoration of Libya’s oil exports.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in November, fell 81 US cents to $US85.30 a barrel. In London, Brent North Sea crude for December pushed $US1.38 higher to finish at $US109.76 on the Intercontinental Exchange.
Gaddafi’s death “actually means little for today’s oil price, but it does remove one of a series of risk factors to a sustained ramp-up in Libyan production,” JPMorgan analyst Lawrence Eagles said.
Libya produced about 1.4 million barrels per day of mostly high-value light sweet crude before the rebellion against Gaddafi broke out at the start of 2011. Around 85 per cent of Libyan output was exported to Europe, and its disappearance contributed to the surge in Brent crude from the North Sea, in comparison to New York-traded WTI.
OPEC sees member Libya restoring production to one million barrels per day within six months, then attaining pre-conflict levels by the end of 2012. But analysts at Barclays Bank warned that “serious security challenges persist in Libya that could hinder efforts to restore Libyan production fully”.
- I saw the body of Col. Muammar #Gaddafi. So weird. #Sirte #Libya.
- We were in a residential area behind the field hospital. Suddenly an ambulance races by with the body of #Gaddafi. We chased. #Libya
- The ambulance with #Gaddafi’s body stopped very briefly at the field hospital, then hit the highway for Misrata. #sirte #Libya
- 10 Revolutionaries were packed inside. The doors were open, but it was difficult to see #Gaddafi. We drove close to
- the open door. #Libya
- From the side door, I could see a bare chest with bullet wound and a bloody hand. He was wearing gold-colored pants. #Gaddafi #Libya
- We fell back behind the ambulance and they opened rear the door to reveal a partly bald, bloody head with frizzy black hair. #Gaddafi #Libya
- There is no question it was #Gaddafi. Every time the ambulance stopped, it was mobbed by rebels. Everyone was going nuts. #Libya
- At every checkpoint between #Sirte and #Misrata, crowds had gathered and wanted to know if we were the ambulance with #Gaddafi’s body in it.
- Upon hearing the truth, that #Gaddafi was truly dead, revolutionaries at the checkpoints were beside themselves, shouting with joy. #Libya
- Not sure where #Gaddafi’s body went. It must have been to a very secure location. I think Misratans may have torn him to shreds. #Libya
- I meant Misratans would tear him to shreds if the body wasn’t closely guarded. #Libya. #Tweetingisnewtome
10.17am: Libyans have celebrated the death of Gaddafi by pouring out into the streets and firing guns into the air, as is customary in the Arab world. But just how dangerous is this? Very, as you’d expect, with numerous examples of people being accidentally shot while being caught up in the revelry. Here’s an interesting BBC feature that looks into the custom.
10am: Here’s an update of events as they have developed so far:
- Muammar Gaddafi has been killed during a battle between rebel and loyalist forces in his hometown of Sirte on the Libyan coast.
- Gaddafi was captured alive while hiding in a sewerage drain.
- He was reportedly injured at the time of capture but succumbed to his wounds while being transported to the rebel stronghold city of Misrata. Some of Gaddafi’s wounds
- were seemingly inflicted after his capture.
- Graphic images and video of the fallen dictator have quickly flown around the world. A doctor who examined the fallen strongman in Misrata found he had been shot in the head and abdomen.
- There are conflicting reports of the fate of Gaddafi’s sons. Officials said his son Mutasin, seen bleeding but alive in a video, had died. Another son, heir-apparent Seif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as conflicting accounts of the day’s events crackled around networks of NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.
- His death comes two months after the fall of Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
- World leaders have welcomed his death, with US President Barack Obama saying today is the day the Libyan people have won their freedom. British PM David Cameron urged people not to forget Gaddafi’s victims, including those who died in the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the country stood ready to assist Libya in their transition to democracy.
9.48am: The Guardian reports that a British Sky News correspondent has translated the graffiti that now adorns the drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found hiding.
It reads: “This is the place where the rat Gaddafi was hiding” and “Contemptible Gaddafi”
9.10am: Flying against popular opinion, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called Gaddafi’s death an “outrage”. “We shall remember Gaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr,” he said.
Chavez has refused to recognise the new Libyan regime, and has ridiculed Libya’s new UN representative as a “puppet” and a “dummy”.
8.59am: Muammar Gaddafi was well known to have what has been described as an “eerie obsession” with former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
“Obviously, the first visit by a US secretary of state since 1953 would be a major milestone on the country’s path to international acceptability,” Rice wrote of her 2008 meeting with Gaddafi in her book, No Higher Honor, published online by The Daily Beast. “But Gaddafi also had a slightly eerie fascination with me personally, asking visitors why his ‘African princess’ wouldn’t visit him.”
Rice, who served under president George W Bush, said she had been warned ahead of the meeting to ignore the Libyan leader’s “crazy” behaviour as he would eventually “get back on track”. But her suspicions were soon confirmed.
“He suddenly stopped speaking and began rolling his head back and forth. ‘Tell President Bush to stop talking about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine!’ he barked. ‘It should be one state! Israeltine!’” Rice recalled. “Perhaps he didn’t like what I said next. In a sudden fit, he fired two translators in the room. ‘Okay.’ I thought, ‘this is Gaddafi.’”
The Libyan leader later insisted Rice join him for dinner in his private kitchen, where he presented her with a collection of photos of the US diplomat’s meetings with world leaders – set to the music of a song called Black Flower in the White House, written for Rice by a Libyan composer. “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy,” Rice said of the episode.
Rice also said Gaddafi failed to anticipate the repercussions that the Arab Spring uprising would have on his regime.
“I came away from the visit realising how much Gaddafi lives inside his own head,” Rice wrote. “I wondered if he even fully understood fully what was going on around him. And I was very, very glad that we had disarmed him of his most dangerous weapons of mass destruction. There in his bunker, making his last stand, I have no doubt he would have used them.”
“I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims, from those who died in connection with the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, to Yvonne Fletcher in a London street, and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan semtex.
“We should also remember the many, many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator and his regime.
“People in Libya today have an even greater chance after this news of building themselves a strong and democratic future. I am proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who helped to liberate their country. We will help them, we will work with them and that is what I want to say today. Thank you.”
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was also quick to hail Gaddafi’s death as a historic moment not just for the Libyan people, but for the wider Arab world and for people generally searching for political freedom.
“Those still fighting for Gaddafi must put their weapons down immediately. Those fighting for the National Transitional Council [NTC] must establish basic law and order as a matter of urgency.
“Furthermore, the NTC must establish a process for reconciliation and national unity and finally, the NTC must begin planning for early democratic elections to establish a long-term government in Tripoli.”
8.33am: Today may be a day of celebration for Libya, but big challenges await. Con Coughlin from London’s Daily Telegraph reminds us that in Iraq, the worst sectarian violence took place after Saddam Hussein’s caputure – not before.
- “While these tribal divisions have become blurred during the Gaddafi era, the strong passions they inspire can still be detected within the NTC [National Transitional Council], where some opposition groups have objected to the dominant influence of Benghazi-based tribes over those from other parts of the country. The other challenge that the NTC must contend with is the growing influence of Islamist groups throughout Libya.”
8.24am: Gaddafi’s final moments were marked by the same brutality that came to symbolise his regime.
Television footage shows a clearly alive Gaddafi being taken from Sirte after being discovered hiding in a sewerage pipe during a final battle between loyalist and rebel fighters.
However subsequent photos, which Fairfax has chosen not to publish due to their graphic content, show the dictator’s blood-soaked body collapsed on the ground.
A sense of the passion surrounding this event can be felt in the words of one rebel fighter, Mohammed Shaban, who told AFP he had taken part in Gaddafi’s capture.
- “His blood is on my shirt. I’ll never wash it.”
8.14am: Amazing footage of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacting to news of Gaddafi’s death.
- “Unconfirmed reports about Gaddafi being captured. Unconfirmed. Yeah, we’ve had a bunch of those before. We’ve had him ‘captured’ a couple of times.”
Famous last words?
8.05am: News of the dictator’s death has already been welcomed worldwide. Bulgarian nurses imprisoned in Libya for eight years over an HIV scandal have welcomed news, saying the deposed Libyan strongman had “got what he deserved”.
“The news made me very happy. It’s a punishment. A dog like him deserved to die like a dog,” Valya Chervenyashka said. She, along with four other Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor, was jailed in 1999, tortured and twice sentenced to death under Gaddafi’s regime.
Five nurses and the Palestinian doctor became known as the “Benghazi six” after they were jailed in Libya in 1999 for allegedly infecting 438 children with HIV-tainted blood at a paediatric hospital in Benghazi. Experts, including Luc Montagnier, the French virologist credited with co-discovering the HIV virus, testified however that the epidemic was due to poor hygiene.
8.01am: There have been several reports that Gaddafi was brandishing a golden gun at the time of his capture. Images have just surfaced of rebel soldiers brandishing the firearm, an elaborate pistol with a wooden handle.
“What we’re seeing now in Sirte is rebel forces going street by street by street to make sure that there are no pockets of Gaddafi loyalists left in that town.
“People in Libya have been waiting for this moment for so long. Until Gaddafi was captured or killed there was still a lot of fear among the locals that he could somehow stage a comeback or commit an act of terror that Would result in the deaths of many Libyans.
“And even if he didn’t do that, his ongoing presence in the country and the rebel forces’ inability to capture him could have hung over the heads of the national transitional council and made everything a lot more unstable than it really needed to be.
“So this should provide a big boost to the NTC and hopefully allow it to get on with the really complicated process of moving Libya towards becoming a democracy.”
“Today we can definitively say that the Gaddafi regime has come to an end,” Obama said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden. Speaking to the Libyan people, Obama said, “You have won your revolution.” Libya now must travel “a long and winding road to full democracy,” he said, adding “there will be difficult days ahead.”
Obama committed the US to a NATO-led campaign in Libya in March, a move that at the time drew criticism from some members of Congress. He said today the demise of Gaddafi’s regime vindicated his strategy of bringing together allies to meet the objective of supporting the Libyan rebels without putting US troops on the ground.
It also follows other US successes overseas, he said. “This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world,”Obama said. “We’ve taken out al-Qaeda leaders, and we’ve put them on the path to defeat. We’re winding down the war in Iraq, and have begun a transition in Afghanistan.
“And now, working in Libya with friends and allies, we’ve demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century,” he said.
7.20am: More details are already emerging of Gaddafi’s violent end, with Libya’s rebel leaders rejoicing in the fact that their former president was found cowering in a sewerage drain.
“Gaddafi was in a jeep when rebels opened fire on it,” National Transitional Council (NTC) field commander Mohammed Leith said.
“He got out and tried to flee, taking shelter in a sewage pipe.” NTC fighters “opened fire again and he came out carrying a Kalashnikov (assault rifle) in one hand and a pistol in the other,” he said.
Gaddafi “looked left and right and asked what was happening. Rebels opened fire again, wounding his leg and shoulder. He died after that,” according to Leith.
7.08am: Libyans are celebrating in the streets as news spreads of Muammar Gaddafi’s death after a firefight in his hometown of Sirte overnight.
In a symbolic final revolt against the man who ruled over the country with an iron fist, Gaddafi was overrun by rebels following a sustained assault on Sirte.
Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril confirmed news of the death this morning, saying Gaddafi’s body would be delivered, a prize of war, to Misrata, the city whose siege and suffering at the hands of Gaddafi’s forces made it a symbol of the rebel cause.
The head of Libya’s National Transitional Council Mohammed Leith this morning confirmed the ousted tyrant was finally captured in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun.