The family of missing South African photographer Anton Hammerl said Friday they now believe he was killed in the Libyan desert by Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces.

Family spokeswoman Bronwyn Friedlander told The Associated Press that journalists recently freed by the Libyan regime reported that they were with Hammerl when he was shot in a remote location on April 5.

"We believe that his injuries are such that he would not have survived without immediate medical attention," Friedlander said.

Hammerl's colleagues had been pressing government officials in South Africa to pursue information about him from the Libyans.

"It is incredibly cruel that they (Qaddafi loyalists) have been telling us that they had him," she said.

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Hammerl, who left South Africa five years ago, had worked for such newspapers as Johannesburg's Star, which has been publishing his photo daily to ensure his case was not forgotten.

The 41-year-old journalist and his wife, Penny Sukhraj, have two boys, a 14-week old and a 7-year-old.