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As of this morning, the U.S. received official statement from Libya’s prime minister confirming Muammar Gaddafi’s death. Yesterday afternoon, precisely two months after rebel forces drove him from power, Gaddafi was captured in the coastal city of Sirte, his hometown.
A battle for control of Gaddafi’s last strongholds began around 8 a.m. local time, and ended a half-hour later with revolutionaries carrying the body of a man who resembled Gaddafi. At the time, the cell phone photo taken of the scene did not make it clear whether the dictator was still alive or not. The dictator’s remaining supporters attempted to flee Sirte in the confusion, resulting in the deaths of approximately 20 men at the hands of rebel forces.
Updates continue to trickled in, shedding light on some of the confusion that still surrounds Gadddafi’s death. Some sources claim the Libyan dictator of 42 years was captured and injured as he tried to flee a convoy that was attacked by NATO. The Washington Post reports:
“We’ve had no confirmation whether Gaddafi was in there or not,” said a NATO official who spoke to The Post’s Michael Birnbaum on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly. Over the past couple weeks in Sirte, the official said, “there was a sense that given the fight they were putting up, which was concerted, that they were protecting something important.” His last words were, “Don’t shoot.”
Oddly enough, Hillary Clinton pledged 11 million dollars in aid just this week on an unannounced trip to Libya. The Obama administration has met with criticism for it’s decision to back the Libyan rebels, although the United States’ financial involvement has been far more limited than in similar conflicts across the Middle East.
Although many hoped to see him put on trial for crimes against humanity, Muammar Gaddafi’s death has still been cause for celebration in Libya today. Crowds surged around the corpse, chanting anti-Gaddafi slogans, and fired weapons into the air. Rebels burned the flag of the dictatorship, then stepped on it. With the old regime ousted, Libyans may finally be free to create a new government. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov was quoted saying,
“I hope that the end of the former Libyan leader will herald the end of the suffering of the Libyan people and the beginning of a new era in which Libyan citizens are able to live without fear and humiliation in a united and prosperous country.”