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Gaddifi killed

DICTATOR shouted 'don't shoot, don't shoot' as he tried to flee.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died today as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown, Libya's interim rulers said.

His killing, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the most dramatic single development in the Arab Spring revolts that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened the grip on power of the leaders of Syria and Yemen.

“He (Gaddafi) was hit in his head,” National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta said.

“There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”

Mlegta said Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn today as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked. He said he had been taken away by an ambulance.

There was no independent confirmation of his remarks.

An anti-Gaddafi fighter said Gaddafi had been found hiding in a hole in the ground and had said "Don't shoot, don't shoot" to the men who grabbed him.

His capture followed within minutes of the fall of Sirte, a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader.

The capture of Sirte and the death of Gaddafi means Libya's ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would get under way after the city, built as a showpiece for Gaddafi's rule, had fallen.

Gaddafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians, was toppled by rebel forces on Aug. 23 after 42 years of one-man rule over the oil-producing North African state.

NTC fighters hoisted the red, black and green national flag above a large utilities building in the centre of a newly-captured Sirte neighbourhood and celebratory gunfire broke out among their ecstatic and relieved comrades.

Hundreds of NTC troops had surrounded the Mediterranean coastal town for weeks in a chaotic struggle that killed and wounded scores of the besieging forces and an unknown number of defenders.

NTC fighters said there were a large number of corpses inside the last redoubts of the Gaddafi troops.

There were fierce gun battles on the streets of the coastal city this morning, bringing an end to a siege which has lasted almost two months since the fall of capital Tripoli to rebel troops in August.

“Our forces control the last neighbourhood in Sirte,” NTC member Hassan Draoua said. “The city has been liberated.”

The ecstatic former rebels celebrated by firing endless rounds into the sky, pumping their guns, knives and even a meat cleaver in the air and singing the national anthem.

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.

“Our forces control the last neighbourhood in Sirte,” Hassan Draoua, a member of Libya's interim National Transitional Council, said in Tripoli. “The city has been liberated.”

hnews@herald.ie