[October 20 2011 Saif al-Islam escapes, Muammar dead , Mutassim Gaddafi dead]
A U.S. drone and French fighter jets fired on the disorganized convoy leaving Sirte,
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who had been his father’s right-hand man in recent months, managed to escape and is still on the run,
3.56pm ET / 8.56pm BST: Reuters has filed this report from the scene outside Sirte. It describes the wreckage of the convoy carrying Gaddafi, and tells how the dictator escaped the Nato strike only to be killed later.
Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, 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.
But they did not get far.
Natio said its aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8.30am on Thursday, but the alliance said it was unsure whether the strikes had killed Gaddafi.
Fifteen pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity sub station some 20 metres from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte.
They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels have assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader.
But there was no bomb crater, indicating the strike may have been carried out by a helicopter gunship, or had been strafed by a fighter jet.
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 in the grass. Some 50 bodies in all.
Gaddafi himself and a handful of his men escaped death and appeared to have ran through a stand of trees towards the main road and hid in the two drainage pipes.
But a group of government fighters were on their tail.
“At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use,” said Salem Bakeer, while being feted by his comrades near the road. “Then we went in on foot. One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me,” he told Reuters.
“Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said, ‘Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded’,” said Bakeer.
“We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying ‘what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?’. Then we took him and put him in the car,” Bakeer said. At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.
Other government fighters who said they took part in Gaddafi’s capture, separately confirmed Bakeer’s version of events, though one said the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was shot and wounded at the last minute by one of his own men. “One of Muammar Gaddafi’s guards shot him in the chest,” said Omran Jouma Shawan. Army chief Jabr was also captured alive, Bakeer said. Mo’tassim is dead. I can confirm it,” Mahmoud Shammam told Reuters.
“With his father,” he said in answer to a question about where Mo’tassim had been.
[earlier]Libyan TV is reporting that Muammar Gaddafi has been captured by NTC fighters in Sirte.
Gaddafi’s vehicles tried to get out of the town, were hit by a Nato airstrike, and Gaddafi and several bodyguards took refuge in a drain, where they were found by NTC fighters. Gadhafi was captured wounded but alive. France’s defence chief has said it was a French fighter jet that fired on the convoy carrying Gaddafi,
Mutassim Gaddafi, one of the ousted Libyan strongman’s sons, was found dead in Sirte on October 20,
“We found him dead. We put his body and that of (former defence minister) Abu Bakr Yunis in an ambulance to take them to Misrata,”
[earlier]Jamal abu-Shaalah, a field commander of NTC, told Al Jazeera that the toppled leader had been seized, but it was not clear whether he was dead or alive.
Gaddafi is captured and is wounded, Abdel Majid, another NTC official, told the Reuters news agency.
“He’s captured. He’s wounded in both legs … He’s been taken away by ambulance,” the senior NTC military official said.
Majid also said that Abu Bakr Younus Jabr, the head of Gaddafi’s armed forces, was killed during the capture of Gaddafi.
The news came shortly after NTC claimed capturing Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, after weeks of fighting.
NATO and the US state department said it cannot confirm the reports of Gaddafi’s capture. He has not been seen since NTC fighters seized Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
Meanwhile in Benghazi, crowds gathered in the streets to start celebrating the reports of Gaddafi’s capture.