Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi

Two months after rebel forces toppled his regime, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former dictator of Libya was allegedly killed early on Thursday, October 20 in the midst of a nearly two week-long encounter between the interim government's army and loyalist fighters in Sirt — the ex-leader's hometown, which was one of the last sympathetic enclaves in the country and the last remaining frontline in the country's civil war.

The majority of Libyans reacted to the news of Qaddafi's death with joyful excitement, with reports of celebrations among citizens around the country and especially in the capital of Tripoli. In Sirt, government soldiers reportedly paraded through the town, blasting automatic weapons through the air in celebration of the defeat of the dictator, who had a reputation for extreme brutality during his 42-year reign.

"A new Libya is born today," said Mahmoud Shammam, the chief spokesman for the interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), in a statement. "This is the day of real liberation. We were serious about giving him a fair trial. It seems God has some other wish."

The NTC has erred in its reports of captures and deaths of Qaddafi loyalists in the past and international sources — including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and NATO — are remaining cautious about declaring the ex-leader dead until more information is known. In the interim, Libya's current top government official, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil has announced his death and the news network Al-Jazeera broadcast images of what they allege is his body.

Leaders of the TNC said that the former leader's remaining foothold in Sirt had prevented them from allocating resources to other, more important governmental issues.