How Gadhafi was killed: What we know

An account of what happened in the minutes leading up to — and just after — the disgraced Libyan dictator's death on Thursday

Moammar Gadhafi
(Image credit: REUTERS/Libyan TV)

As the world processes the news that Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's dictator for 42 years, was killed Thursday in the battle for Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the prevailing question is: How did he die? Of course, many details are still unconfirmed and somewhat hazy. But there's plenty we do know. A concise guide:

Where did this happen?

Gadhafi "had been barricaded in with his heavily armed loyalists" in one of the few buildings they still held in Sirte, CBS News reports. These soldiers were "furiously battling" the revolutionary fighters when NATO airstrikes, carried out by French warplanes, began blasting the area.

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Did Gadhafi try to escape?

Yes. Following the airstrikes, an 80-vehicle convoy of pro-Gadhafi forces attempted to get out. Gadhafi was part of that convoy, the AP reports. When airstrikes halted the convoy's progress, "revolutionary fighters moved in on the vehicle carrying Gadhafi himself." After gunfire was exchanged, Gadhafi, his neck wounded, was pulled from the vehicle, manhandled by angry crowds, and eventually taken to an ambulance. But not everyone agrees that soldiers pulled the despot from his vehicle: Reports from BBC News and Britain's Telegraph say that Gadhafi and his bodyguards were hiding in a large concrete pipe by a nearby roadway when he was cornered and captured.

What happened when rebels got their hands on Gadhafi?

Several graphic videos show Gadhafi just after he was captured. In one video that originally aired on Al-Jazeera, "the goateed, balding Gadhafi is seen in a blood-soaked shirt, and his face is bloodied," says the AP. As he is shoved through a crowd and pushed onto the hood of a pickup truck, fighters around him chant, "God is great." Pinned against the truck, Gadhafi is "struck on the head with a pistol while a group of fighters manhandled him," says MSNBC. The footage then shows him being dragged again, while soldiers hit him and pull his hair. Gadhafi finally collapses on the ground, and his limp body is rolled over the pavement by the crowd. A doctor who was part of the medical team that examined Gadhafi tells the AP that he bled to death half an hour later.

Was he shot?

According to many officials, news sources, and witnesses, Gadhafi was indeed shot. A rebel fighter tells James Foley at the Global Post that he saw Gadhafi get shot in the head and close to the heart. Another fighter tells BBC News that Gadhafi shouted, "Don't shoot!" when he was surrounded by rebel soldiers. A recently surfaced cell phone photo purports to show Gadhafi's dead body with a bullet wound to the temple. The doctor who examined Gadhafi said the deposed leader had two bullet wounds, to the head and chest. According to The Telegraph, Gadhafi also suffered two gunshots to the legs.

What will happen to his body?

The body was paraded through the streets of the nearby city of Misrata, says CBS News, mounted on top of a vehicle and surrounded by a large crowd. Libyans chanted, "The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain," according to footage that aired on Al-Arabiya. According to Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Tripoli military council, the body is now being transported to an undisclosed location.

Sources: AP, BBC News (2), CBS News, Global Post, MSNBC, NY Times, Telegraph, Times of India

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