NEW: Libyan prince happy there is now a "free country"
Government wanted Gadhafi to be taken alive, diplomat tells CNN
Anti-Gadhafi messages spray painted at pipe where he was found
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Libyans cheered the fate of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi into the early hours of Friday after his death in what Libya’s transitional prime minister described as a crossfire that followed his arrest by revolutionary forces.
“This is a time to start a new Libya, with a new economy, with a new education and with a new health system – with one future,” Mahmoud Jibril, Libya’s transitional prime minister, said after proclaiming Gadhafi’s death.
Gadhafi was captured alive and unharmed as troops from the National Transitional Council overran his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, Jibril said. But a gunbattle erupted between transitional council fighters and Gadhafi’s supporters as his captors attempted to load him into a vehicle, Jibril said, leaving Gadhafi with a wound to his right arm.
More shooting erupted as the vehicle drove away, and Gadhafi – who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years before rebel forces overthrew him in August – was hit in the head, Jibril said, Gadhafi died moments before arriving at a hospital in Misrata, Jibril said, citing the city’s coroner.
Grainy video broadcast on Arabic satellite networks captured some of the onetime Libyan strongman’s last moments, as the bloodied but still-alive Gadhafi was being hauled onto a truck. Another video showed a dead Gadhafi with what appeared to be a head wound.
According to Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the United States, troops found Gadhafi in a large drainage pipe. Daily Telegraph reporter Ben Farmer in Sirte old CNN’s Anderson Cooper the pipe is about 3 feet wide and filled with trash and sand.
The phrases “The place of the rat Gadhafi” and “You scum” were painted around its exterior, apparently after the capture.
Jibril said Gadhafi was carrying a gun but did not resist his captors. Jibril said DNA samples confirmed Gadhafi’s identity, and the International Criminal Court – which had issued an arrest warrant for the ousted dictator on war-crimes charges – has agreed to allow Gadhafi’s burial.
Aujali said the National Transitional Council and the Libyan people wanted Gadhafi to be taken alive to answer for his crimes. In one video from the scene, a voice can be heard shouting, “No, no, we want him alive, we want him alive.”
U.S., NATO and French officials said transitional government fighters captured Gadhafi’s convoy after French warplanes and a U.S. drone forced it to a halt on the way out of Sirte. Following Gadhafi’s death, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced Thursday that the alliance “will terminate our mission,” launched in March under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians.
Amnesty International called for the National Transitional Council to mount “a full, independent and impartial inquiry” into Gadhafi’s death and said his inner circle and family should be “treated humanely and, if captured, given fair trials.”
Abubaker Saad, who was a Gadhafi aide for nine years, said it didn’t really matter whether Gadhafi was dead or alive as long as he was no longer a fugitive.