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FACTDROP: Rumors, photo claims Gaddafi wounded and captured, but all unconfirmed


Rumors, photo claims Gaddafi wounded and captured, but all unconfirmed

Anti-Gaddafi fighters celebrate the fall of Sirte.

Πηγή: Washington Post
By Melissa Bell
Oct 20 2011

The final stronghold of Moammar Gaddafi loyalists fell to the Libyan fighters Thursday. Two months after Libyan rebels captured the capital of Tripoli, fighters ferreted out the last remaining loyalists in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte

Rumors swirled that not only had the town fallen, but the troops may have captured Gaddafi.

“He’s captured. We don’t know if he’s dead or not,” Ibrahim Mohammed Shirkasiya, a senior security official in Misurata, the biggest city west of Sirte, told The Post’s Mary Beth Sheridan by telephone. He said his information came from revolutionary commanders in Sirte.

Libyan TV station Al-Ahrar reported that Gaddafi had been killed in the fighting, but didn’t cite a source. Transitional National Council member Jamal abu-Shaalah quoted in al-Jazeera and Abdel Majid, a council official quoted by the Reuters news agency both said he had been killed.

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Twitter erupted with the news, with six of its top ten trending topics focusing on Libya. People began passing around an image that appears to have been taken by a cell phone and shows a bloodied Gaddafi.
AFP and Getty Images pushed out this photograph saying it was an image captured off a cellular phone camera showing the arrest of Libya's strongman Moammar Gaddafi. (Screengrab from Twitter)

Reuters reports that Gaddafi was fleeing the city in a convoy when NATO warplanes attacked.

“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.”

Thursday, the official said, “we saw a convoy coming out. It was tracked by NATO. There was a limited amount of engagement.” The official said that forces under control of the Libyan National Transitional Council had also surrounded the area and were engaged in heavy exchanges of gunfire with the convoy.

“We’ve seen nothing coming out of that particular pocket” of Sirte “until today, so it was unusual,” the official said. The official described what had come under attack as not a single convoy, but “a number of different packets of vehicles attempting to break through.”

Gaddafi has proved elusive during the fighting and has not been seen since Tripoli fell. There have been a number of reports in the past that he was captured or near capture. Former U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley wrote on Twitter that Gaddafi’s death, if confirmed, would “help Libya avoid a lengthy and destructive insurgency.”

Libyan officials previously had said they believed Gaddafi to be hiding somewhere in the vast southwestern desert. Sirte is on the northern coast of the country. Reuters reported that the U.S. State Department could not confirm the capture of Gaddafi.

What is confirmed, though, is that Libyan fighters are raucously celebrating the fall of Sirte. The Associated Press reports:

“In the central quarter where the final battle took place, the fighters looking like the same ragtag force that started the uprising eight months ago jumped up and down with joy and flashed V-for-victory signs. Some burned the green Gaddafi flag, then stepped on it with their boots.

“They chanted ‘Allah akbar,’ or ‘God is great’ in Arabic, while one fighter climbed a traffic light pole to unfurl the revolution’s flag, which he first kissed. Discarded military uniforms of Gaddafi’s fighters littered the streets. One revolutionary fighter waved a silver trophy in the air while another held up a box of firecrackers, then set them off.”

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