Gadhafi killed after bombing of convoy in retreat from Sirte

Deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been killed in his hometown of Sirte, according to a spokesman for the U.S.-backed revolutionary movement that overthrew him.

"We announce to the world that Gadhafi has been killed at the hands of the revolution," National Transitional Council spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga said to AFP. "It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Gadhafi has met his fate." 

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Images and video from a mobile phone of what appeared to be Gadhafi's bloodied and severely injured body were released by AFP and Al Jazeera. Ghoga said the photo was authentic.

At the news of his death, cable news showed scenes of jubilation in Libya, with people celebrating in the streets of Tripoli with gunfire.

President Obama is scheduled to make an announcement at 2 p.m. on the events in Libya.

Gadhafi was killed after a NATO airstrike on a four-vehicle convoy that was attempting to flee Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown and last stronghold. 

Gadhafi and his aides had apparently been surrounded and were attempting to escape the city in the early morning. Although NATO officials have not yet confirmed which member nation carried out the mission, the planes were expected to be French because British and Danish officials denied involvement in the attacks. 

After the strike, Gadhafi fled the convoy to hide in a nearby storm drain, where forces with the National Transition Council found him.

The BBC reported that a soldier who was brandishing Gadhafi's golden pistol said that the colonel shouted, "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" upon being discovered. The NTC said Gadhafi was found with 17 aides and family members who were killed or captured. Some of the bodies of the Gadhafi loyalists remain outside the drain, which has been freshly spray-painted with celebratory slogans, the Associated Press reported.

Anees al-Sharif, a spokesman for the interim government's military counsel, told CNN that Gadhafi's son, Mutassim, and his chief of intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, have also been killed.

Gadhafi's body is being taken to a secret location for security reasons, government official Mohamed Abdel Kafi told Reuters.

The former Libyan dictator has been on the run since rebel leaders captured the capital city, Tripoli, and ousted his regime. They did so with the backing of a NATO air campaign supported by the Obama administration. 

His death would be the most dramatic moment yet in the Arab Spring, the revolutionary movement in the Middle East that toppled the Egyptian government led by Hosni Mubarak and the government of Tunisia. Fighting has also broken out in Yemen and Syria, where demonstrators have faced brutality.

In backing a bombing campaign against Libyan forces instrumental in the downfall of Gadhafi, Obama argued it would prevent Gadhafi from committing atrocities against civilians. 

Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress scolded the White House for a lack of consultations with lawmakers, with some accusing the president of violating the War Powers Resolution. A House measure to authorize the military action by the U.S. failed, though a measure to withdraw funding for the effort also was defeated. 

There were concerns that the Libya action would overstretch the U.S. military, which is still occupied with Afghanistan and Iraq.

New questions for the U.S. are what to do next in Libya, and whether Gadhafi's death and the fall of Sirte signal an end to the U.S. presence in the NATO action.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement Thursday describing Gadhafi's killing as ending a phase in the conflict. 

"The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country," McCain said.

Gadhafi's capture has been a high priority of the interim government and United States since Tripoli's fall, but he had proven elusive.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli earlier this week to offer aid to the transitional government. Clinton said that the American intervention in the country had "prevented a great humanitarian disaster" and that "now the hard work begins" in establishing a new government.

—John T. Bennett contributed to this story.

This story was posted at 7:44 a.m. and last updated at 12:46 p.m.