Published October 20, 2011
The hometown of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi fell today as the last vestige of control for the man once hailed as the "king of kings of Africa" came to an end. And officials in the transitional government say Qaddafi, who has been in hiding since rebels seized control of Tripoli, was captured or killed.
Here's a running account of the day's developments. All times are local in Libya, which is two hours ahead of GMT and six hours ahead of EDT.
The bodies of suspected Qaddafi loyalists were outside storm drains where Qaddafi was reportedly found in Sirte. The concrete walls of the drains are spray-painted with graffiti and the earth around them is dry.
In the early days of the revolt against him, Qaddafi promised to fight until "the last bullet."
In 1998, 400 Libyan children were infected with HIV at a hospital in Benghazi. The Qaddafi regime accused five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor of deliberately infecting the children.
The medics were arrested, tortured into confessions and eventually sentenced to death, though international experts blamed unhygienic conditions at the hospital for the infections.
After years of wrangling with Europe, Libya released the six in 2007 and they flew to Bulgaria, retracting their confessions.
One of the Bulgarians, Zdravko Georgiev, said Qaddafi's death was not enough:
"Why should I be satisfied? No one will give me back the years spent in prison or undo the tortures sustained."
Britain's jets and helicopters backed the rebels during the NATO campaign, and the government today promised assistance to Libya's new leaders.
"Today is a day to remember all of Qaddafi's victims," British Prime Minister David Cameron said, referring to those in Libya and also the 270 people -- mainly British and American -- killed in the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The only person charged in the bombing, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, was freed from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds in 2009 because of illness. He remains alive and in Libya.
Qaddafi's bloodied body was loaded on top of a vehicle and taken to Misrata, a city that was besieged for months by his forces. A large crowd surrounding the vehicle chanted, "The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain."
Russia's presidential envoy to Libya warned that Qaddafi's death may not end the fighting in Libya.
"Today's problem of Libya is not the problem of Qaddafi's life or death," Mikhail Margelov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. "This is a problem of consolidating fragmented Libyan society and of strengthening the armed forces."
Initial reports from fighters said Qaddafi was holed up with the remnants of his forces in the last few buildings they held in Sirte. At one point, a convoy tried to flee and was blasted by NATO airstrikes. It's not clear if Qaddafi died there or in the buildings.
The Transitional National Council informed the U.S. of Qaddafi's death minutes before Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's announcement. Reaction from the White House and the U.N. secretary-general are expected shortly.
BREAKING: Libya's prime minister says Moammar Qaddafi has been killed.
U.S. official: Libyan leaders have informed the U.S. that Qaddafi is dead.
Al-Jazeera TV is airing shaky footage of a man resembling Qaddafi lying dead or badly wounded, bleeding from the head and stripped to the waist as fighters roll him over on the pavement.
The White House isn't saying much about developments in Libya while U.S. officials await more word. But even before confirmation, Sen. John McCain called it "an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution."
He said the U.S. and NATO should continue support for Libya. The U.S. led the start of the NATO air campaign that bolstered the rebel forces in the early days.
Tomorrow marks two months since Tripoli fell to the rebels and Qaddafi disappeared from his compound in the capital. At the time, their transitional government said they dedicated a special unit of crack fighters to track him down.
There have been rumors of Qaddafi's whereabouts for weeks -- some said he was in neighboring Niger or Algeria, some said he could be in a bunker deep beneath Tripoli.
Today in Niger, Aghaly Alambo, a native of Niger who became a part of Qaddafi's inner circle, said he was watching TV and following the developments closely, but his own sources in Libya had not yet been able to confirm the reports of Gahdafi's capture.
Libyan officials are calling a news conference in Tripoli with Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister of the transitional government and the highest-ranking official in the capital now. It's scheduled to begin in 15 minutes.
A Libyan fighter told The Associated Press he was there when Qaddafi was shot with a 9 mm gun in the lower body. Standing in front of a truck with a crowd of congratulatory comrades, he says he struck the former dictator with his shoe -- a grave insult in the Arab world -- waving the footwear in question for emphasis.
In Sirte, fighters who have battled for months to seize control of the country from Qaddafi's forces embraced in the streets and chanted. "The war, it's finished," one fighter said.
A spokesman for Libya's transitional government says Qaddafi has been captured and possibly killed in the fall of his hometown. Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam says he expects the prime minister to make an announcement in an hour or so. Past reports of Qaddafi's death or capture have been wrong.
NATO confirms they've hit a convoy of Qaddafi loyalists fleeing Sirte, and Libyan fighters say they captured the ousted leader.
White House officials are monitoring the reports of Qaddafi's capture and death but say they can't confirm anything. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was just in Libya yesterday and said then she hoped for his demise. She also offered U.S. aid to the interim government.
Libyan officials and NATO say they can't confirm reports that Qaddafi was captured or killed today when his hometown fell.
Discarded military uniforms of Qaddafi's forces are in the streets. One fighter climbed a traffic light, kissed the revolution's flag then unfurled it.
"The city has been liberated," says Hassan Draoua, a member of Libya's interim government. The Libyan fighters were seen beating captured Qaddafi men in the back of trucks, with officers trying to stop them.
Qaddafi's hometown, Sirte, has fallen to the rebels. Our reporter in the city says Libyan fighters are searching homes and buildings looking for any Qaddafi loyalists who might be hiding.