Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Gaddafi’s death – who pulled the trigger?

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Revolutionary fighters celebrate the capture of Sirte, Libya, on Thursday. (PTi)

SIRTE: Disturbing images of a blood-stained and shaken Muammar Gaddafi being dragged around by angry fighters quickly circulated around the world after the Libyan dictator’s dramatic death near his home town of Sirte.

The exact circumstances of his demise are still unclear with conflicting accounts of his death. But the footage of the last chaotic moments of Gaddafi’s life offered some clues into what happened.

Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured near Sirte. In the video, filmed by a bystander in the crowd and later aired on television, Gaddafi is shown dazed and wounded being dragged off a vehicle’s bonnet and pulled to the ground by his hair.

”Keep him alive, keep him alive!” someone shouts. Gaddafi then goes out of view and gunshots ring out.

”They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him,” one senior source in the NTC told Reuters. ”He might have been resisting.”

In what appeared to contradict the events depicted in the video, Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council said Gaddafi was killed when a gunfight broke out after his capture between his supporters and government fighters. He died from a bullet wound to the head, the prime minister said.

The NTC said no order had been given to kill him.

Gaddafi called the rebels who rose up against his 42 years of one-man rule ”rats”, but in the end it appeared that it was he who was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and filth.

”He called us rats, but look where we found him,” said Ahmed Al Sahati, a 27-year-old government fighter, standing next to two stinking drainage pipes under a six-lane highway near Sirte.

On the ground, government fighters described scenes of carnage as they told stories of Gaddafi’s final hours.

Shortly before dawn prayers, Gaddafi, surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr, broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.

They did not get far.

France said its aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. (1200 IST), but said it was unsure whether the strikes had killed Gaddafi. A NATO official said the convoy was hit either by a French plane or a US Predator drone.

Two miles 3 km west of Sirte, 15 pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns lay burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity substation 20 metres from the main road.

They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels has assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader.

There was no bomb crater, indicating the strike may have been carried out by a jet fighter.

Inside the trucks still in their seats sat the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike. Other bodies lay mutilated and contorted strewn across the grass. Some 50 bodies in all. Mansour Daou, leader of Gaddafi’s personal bodyguards, was with the former strongman shortly before his end. He told al Arabiya television that after the air strike the survivors had ”split into groups and each group went its own way”. (PTI)

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