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Sirte: Muammar Gaddafi was killed by Libyans he once scorned as "rats," succumbing to wounds, some seemingly inflicted after his capture by fighters who overran his last redoubt on Thursday in his hometown of Sirte.
Two months after Western-backed rebels ended 42 years of eccentric, often bloody, one-man rule by capturing the capital Tripoli, his death and the fall of the final bastion ended a nervous hiatus for the new interim government, which is now set to declare formal "liberation" with a timetable for elections.
The killing or capture of senior aides, including possibly two sons, as an armored convoy braved NATO air strikes in a desperate bid to break out of Sirte, may ease fears of diehards regrouping elsewhere - though cellphone video apparently of Gaddafi alive and being beaten may inflame his sympathizers.
A Libyan official said Gaddafi, 69, was killed in custody.
"We confirm that all the evils, plus Gaddafi, have vanished from this beloved country," interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said in Tripoli as the body was delivered, a prize of war, to Misrata, the city whose siege and suffering at the hands of Gaddafi's forces made it a symbol of the rebel cause.
"It's time to start a new Libya, a united Libya," Jibril added. "One people, one future." A formal declaration of liberation, that will set the clock ticking on a timeline to elections, would be made by Friday, he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spearheaded a Franco-British move in NATO to back the revolt against Gaddafi hailed a turn of events that few had expected so soon, since there had been little evidence that Gaddafi himself was in Sirte.
But he also alluded to fears that, without the glue of hatred for Gaddafi, the new Libya could descend, like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, into bloody factionalism: "The liberation of Sirte must signal ... the start of a process ... to establish a democratic system in which all groups in the country have their place and where fundamental freedoms are guaranteed," he said.A spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, Jalal al-Galal, said a doctor who
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