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Gaddafi killed in home town

Muammar Gaddafi has been killed, Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said today.

"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," Mr Jibril told a news conference in the capital Tripoli.

Gaddafi, who ruled Libya with a dictatorial grip for 42 years until he was ousted by rebels in a bloody civil war, was killed when revolutionary forces overwhelmed his home town, Sirte.

It was the last major bastion of resistance two months after the regime fell.

Initial reports from fighters said Gaddafi had been holed up with the last of his fighters in the furious battle with revolutionary fighters assaulting the last few buildings they held.

At one point, a convoy tried to flee the area and was blasted by Nato airstrikes, though it was not clear if Gaddafi was in the vehicle.

Al-Jazeera TV showed footage of a man resembling the 69-year-old Gaddafi lying dead or severely wounded, bleeding from the head and stripped to the waist as fighters rolled him over on the pavement. Witnesses said his body was put on display in the nearby city of Misrata.

Celebratory gunfire and cries of "Allahu Akbar" rang out across the capital Tripoli as the reports spread.

Cars honked their horns and people hugged each other. In Sirte, the ecstatic former rebels celebrated the city's fall after weeks of bloody siege by firing endless rounds into the sky, pumping their guns, knives and even a meat cleaver in the air and singing the national anthem.

Libya's new leaders had said they would declare the country's "liberation" after the fall of Sirte.

Gaddafi's death rules out a scenario that some had feared - that he might flee deeper into Libya's southern deserts and lead a resistance campaign.

The fate of two of his sons, Seif al-Islam and Muatassim, as well as some top figures of his regime remains unknown, but their ability to rally loyalists would be deeply undermined with Gaddafi's loss.

Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said he was told that Gaddafi was dead from fighters who said they saw the body.

"Our people in Sirte saw the body," Mr Shammam told The Associated Press. "Revolutionaries say Gaddafi was in a convoy and that they attacked the convoy."

Sirte's fall caps weeks of heavy, street-by-street fighting as revolutionary fighters besieged the Mediterranean coastal city. Despite the fall of Tripoli on August 21, Gaddafi loyalists mounted fierce resistance in several areas, including Sirte, preventing Libya's new leaders from declaring full victory in the eight-month civil war.

Earlier this week, revolutionary fighters gained control of one stronghold, Bani Walid.

Col Roland Lavoie, spokesman for Nato's operational headquarters in Naples, Italy, said the alliance's aircraft today struck two vehicles of pro-Gaddafi forces "which were part of a larger group manoeuvring in the vicinity of Sirte."

The Misrata Military Council, one of the command groups, said its fighters captured Gaddafi.

Another commander, Abdel-Basit Haroun, said Gaddafi was killed when the airstrike hit the fleeing convoy.

One fighter who said he was at the battle told AP Television News that the final fight took place at an opulent compound for visiting dignitaries built by Gaddafi's regime.

Adel Busamir said the convoy tried to break out but after being hit it turned back and re-entered the compound. Several hundred fighters attacked.

"We found him there," Busamir said. "We saw them beating him (Gaddafi) and someone shot him with a 9mm pistol ... then they took him away."

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