Gaddafi death hailed by David Cameron

The death of toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was today hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a step towards a "strong and democratic future" for the north African country.

Gaddafi died this morning as rebel troops overran the final pockets of fighters loyal to the former regime in his home-town of Sirte.



His death was announced by the Prime Minister of the country's National Transitional Council government Mahmoud Jibril, who told a press conference in capital Tripoli: "We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed."



Speaking in Downing Street moments after Mr Jibril officially confirmed the dictator's death, Mr Cameron said he was "proud" of the role Britain played in Nato airstrikes to protect Libyan civilians after the uprising against Gaddafi's rule began in February.



And he said today was a time to remember Gaddafi's victims, including those who died when Pan-Am flight 103 was bombed over Lockerbie, Wpc Yvonne Fletcher who was gunned down in a London street and all those killed by the IRA using Semtex explosives supplied by Libya.









Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said: "I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi's victims, from those who died in connection with the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie to Yvonne Fletcher in a London street and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan Semtex.



"We should also remember the many, many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator and his regime.



"People in Libya today have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future.



"I'm proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who have helped to liberate their country.



"We will help them, we will work with them and that is what I want to say today."





Mahmud Nacua, the charge d'affaires at the Libyan embassy in London, said: "It is a glorious and momentous victory against the tyranny of Muammar Gaddafi, his sons and cronies.



"Today, Thursday October 20, we are told that Gaddafi is dead. The Libyan freedom fighters have finally succeeded in drawing the curtain on Gaddafi crimes.



"Their brave actions have spared Libya and the world from any further suffering of his evils.



"Today Libya's future begins. Gaddafi's black era has come to an end forever.



"The Libyan people are looking forward to a very promising future where they can finally start building their free, democratic and just state for which they have fought for about eight months.



"Our people have paid a high price. About 40,000 martyrs have given their souls and their lives for the freedom of their country.



"We appreciate very much the help of the international community to get rid of Gaddafi and his crimes."



He said the next step was to build a "new Libya".







Gaddafi had been hunted for two months since the fall of Tripoli on August 23 and his death brings a definitive end to the revolution which began with street protests in February and was supported by airstrikes by Britain and other Nato states.



Officials of the National Transitional Council suggested Gaddafi died after being shot in the head and legs while trying to flee Sirte in a convoy which was targeted by Nato warplanes.



Amid confusion on the ground, it was initially reported that Gaddafi had been wounded and taken into custody.



And there were also reports that the man who ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years may have been found cowering in a concrete pipe, begging not to be shot.



Gruesome images of a blood-stained man who resembled Gaddafi being dragged through the streets of Sirte were shown on Libyan television.



Libyan TV reported that Gaddafi's body had been moved to a mosque in the town of Misrata, scene of some of the fiercest fighting earlier in the rebellion which ousted him from power.



The Ministry of Defence in London confirmed that Nato warplanes this morning attacked a convoy of vehicles fleeing Sirte.



It is not known whether Gaddafi was in any of the vehicles.



"It was targeted on the basis that this was the last of the pro-Gaddafi forces fleeing Sirte," a spokesman said.



RAF fighters were not involved in the attack, although RAF reconnaissance aircraft were in the area.



There were scenes of wild jubilation in Sirte, which had been under siege for the past two months as final pockets of Gaddafi loyalists held out against the NTC forces.



The end came this morning in a couple of hours of fierce gun battles believed to have left many Gaddafi fighters dead, possibly including the head of the former regime's armed forces, Abu Bakr Younus Jabr.



Gaddafi's son and anointed heir Saif al-Islam is understood to be at large in the desert. Mr Jibril said a convoy believed to be carrying Saif has come under attack from NTC forces.



In London, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "The death of Colonel Gaddafi marks the end of a tragic period in Libyan history marked by brutality and repression.



"I pay tribute to the Libyan people for standing up to the former regime and seeking to define their own democratic destiny. We should be proud of the support that our armed forces have given to that cause.



"We should all hope that this day also marks the end of the armed conflict and the start of a period of stability where we see a transition to democratic government.



"Britain should stand ready to continue to help the National Transitional Council as it seeks to improve economic and social conditions, ensure order and prepare for elections."



International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said Mr Cameron had been "the key person in ensuring a new dawn" in Libya.



Mr Mitchell told ITV News: "He bravely took the decision that Britain should intervene, he led the international community ensuring that international action was galvanised around stopping the threatened massacre, particularly in Benghazi, and Britain has played a leading role.



"Our armed forces have been in action in supporting that United Nations resolution that Britain managed to secure at the UN.



"I think our Prime Minister has been the key person in ensuring a new dawn can now break in Libya and the Libyan people can decide their own destiny in a free way that has not been available to them for more than 40 years."











These are David Cameron's comments in full on the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi:



"I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi's victims, from those who died in connection with the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, to Yvonne Fletcher in a London street, and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan Semtex.



"We should also remember the many, many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator and his regime.



"People in Libya today have an even greater chance after this news of building themselves a strong and democratic future. I am proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who helped to liberate their country.



"We will help them, we will work with them and that is what I want to say today. Thank you."

PA

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