Violent End to an Era as Qaddafi Dies in Libya
Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Libyan government fighters celebrated after routing the last remaining forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from the coastal town of Surt on Thursday.
BY KAREEM FAHIM, ANTHONY SHADID AND RICK GLADSTONE
October 21, 2011
MISURATA, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s last moments Thursday were as violent as the uprising that overthrew him.
In a cellphone video that went viral on the Internet, the deposed Libyan leader is seen splayed on the hood of a truck and then stumbling amid a frenzied crowd, seemingly begging for mercy. He is next seen on the ground, with fighters grabbing his hair. Blood pours down his head, drenching his golden brown khakis, as the crowd shouts, “God is great!”
Colonel Qaddafi’s body was shown in later photographs, with bullet holes apparently fired into his head at what forensic experts said was close range, raising the possibility that he was executed by anti-Qaddafi fighters.
The official version of events offered by Libya’s new leaders — that Colonel Qaddafi was killed in a cross-fire — did not appear to be supported by the photographs and videos that streamed over the Internet all day long, raising questions about the government’s control of the militias in a country that has been divided into competing regions and factions.
The conflicting accounts about how he was killed seemed to reflect an instability that could trouble Libya long after the euphoria fades about the demise of Colonel Qaddafi, who ruled Libya for nearly 42