Former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been confirmed dead after reportedly succumbing to wounds following his capture near his hometown of Sirte after fierce fighting.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time," Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told a news conference in the capital city Tripoli. "Moammar Gadhafi has been killed."
Unconfirmed reports from fighters for the transitional government celebrating in Sirte said that Gadhafi was found in a culvert, wearing a uniform and carrying a golden pistol. Most news accounts seemed to agree that the former dictator was shot to death.
According to the Associated Press, the fighters believed to have killed Gadhafi were from Misrata, which endured a brutal siege by the dictator's forces for weeks during the civil war. Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor on the medical team that accompanied the body in the ambulance to Misrata, told the news agency that he died from two bullet wounds to the head and chest.
The World Reacts
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told news agency Reuters that the former dictator's death marked an "historic transition for Libya."
"This day marks the final moment for the Gadhafi regime," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday evening in Berlin. "With this a bloody war Gadhafi waged on his own people has come to an end. The way is finally free for a peaceful new political beginning."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle pointed to German efforts already underway to help Libyans reconstruct their country, citing the example of more than 40 wounded fighters recently brought to Germany for medical treatment. As a dictator, Gadhafi had "violated human rights and waged a bloody war against his own people," he added.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who pushed for military intervention in the country, said the democratic process could now begin in Libya. "The liberation of Sirte must signal ... the start of a process agreed by the CNT (National Transitional Council) to establish a democratic system in which all groups in the country have their place and where fundamental freedoms are guaranteed," he said in a statement.
Sarkozy's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe also commented in the dictator's death. "It is the beginning of a new era, the beginning of democracy and reconstruction in Libya," he told reporters during a visit to New Delhi, India.
In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy issued a joint statement on the development. "The reported death of Moammar Gafhafi marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long," it read. "We call on the National Transitional Council to pursue a broad based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country."
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacted to Gadhafi's reported death with the Latin phrase "Sic transit gloria mundi," which means, "So goes the glory of the world." He added: "Now the war is over."
-- dsl/kla -- with wires
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