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Libyans Celebrate, World Welcomes Qaddafi's Death


Gaddafi’s body arriving in Misurata
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WATCH: Footage from the Alhurra TV channel shows a convoy carrying Qaddafi's body as it arrives in Misurata. (Warning: Graphic images)

Libyans in the capital, Tripoli, and elsewhere in the North African country have been celebrating following the killing of longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Much of the international community has also welcomed Qaddafi's demise, and has called on Libyans now to work for a democratic future that stands in contrast to the brutality of Qaddafi's dictatorship.
Videos broadcast around the world have shown Qaddafi bloodied but still alive after he was reportedly pulled from hiding in a drainage pipe on October 20 by fighters of the transitional government near his hometown of Sirte.
The National Transitional Council said Qaddafi was killed when a gunfight broke out between his supporters and government fighters. It said no order had been given to kill the man who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years.
Acting Prime Minister Mahmud Jibril said Qaddafi died from a bullet wound to the head.
Reports say a U.S. unmanned drone aircraft and a French jet had targeted a convoy believed to be carrying Qaddafi shortly before his capture.
One of Qaddafi's sons, Mutassim, and Qaddafi's defense chief Abu Bakr Yunis Jabar, were also reported killed in Sirte.
Qaddafi's body was later taken to Misrata, a city that suffered a siege by pro-Qaddafi forces during the eight-month civil war.
It was not immediately clear where Qaddafi will be buried. Reports say his burial is likely to be held in secret.
Reports say the National Transitional Council is expected to proclaim by October 22 or earlier that Libya has been completely liberated from Qaddafi's rule. Officials say such a declaration will start the clock ticking on a timeline to elections.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who helped lead the push for NATO to intervene in Libya in March, said the "dark shadow of tyranny" has been lifted.

"Today, the government of Libya announced the death of Muammar Qaddafi. This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya," Obama said.
Obama said Qaddafi's fate should also serve as a message to other embattled rulers in the Arab world that, as he put it, "the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end."

A mobile-phone image by an NTC fighter shows Muammar Qaddafi's arrest in Sirte.
A mobile-phone image by an NTC fighter shows Muammar Qaddafi's arrest in Sirte.
​Jubilant residents poured onto the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli, waving flags and honking horns.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, one resident of the capital said, "I feel like a Libyan reborn. I’ve been praying to God to see the devil dead and now the devil is dead."

The rebels had first ousted the 69-year-old Qaddafi, who had ruled Libya for 42 years, in August, when they captured Tripoli.

His whereabouts had remained unknown, while several of his family members were in hiding or had fled the country.

Speaking to Western media in February, Qaddafi called rebels seeking to overturn his regime international terrorists, while maintaining that the majority of Libyans would support him.

"They love me. All my people [are] with me. They love me all," he said. "They will die to protect me, my people."

World Reaction

Other world leaders welcomed the news.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the development "marks a historic transition for Libya," adding, "let us recognize immediately that this is only the end of the beginning."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said, "we should remember the many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator" and that the people of Libya now had a greater chance of building a democratic future.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Qaddafi's death as a "major step for Libya."

In a joint statement, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Qaddafi's death would allow Libya to "embrace a new democratic future."

EU spokesman Michael Mann told RFE/RL: "Colonel Qaddafi's death brings closure to a tragic period in the lives of so many Libyan people. Libya is entering a process of transition. It's important now that the leadership unites to provide a democratic future for the country in full respect for human rights. While of course the crimes of the past must be addressed, the leadership must also seek a path of reconciliation."

In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said, "Now the war is over."

And senior U.S. Senator John McCain said the Libyan people could now focus on "strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans."

"I think dictators all over the world -- including [Syrian leader] Bashar Assad, maybe even Mr. Putin, maybe some Chinese, maybe all of them -- may be a little bit more nervous because clearly the people of Libya rose up," McCain added.

compiled from agency reports

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