Commanders for Libya’s transitional authorities say they have captured ousted leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
The reports came after transitional forces claimed control of Sirte, Col Gaddafi’s birthplace, following weeks of fierce fighting.
The colonel was toppled in August after 42 years in power. The International Criminal Court is seeking his arrest.
“He’s captured. He’s wounded in both legs,” National Transitional Council (NTC) official Abdel Majid told Reuters news agency.
“He’s been taken away by ambulance.”
AFP news agency quoted another NTC official, Mohamed Leith, as saying that Col Gaddafi had been captured in Sirte and was “seriously wounded” but still breathing.
If the reports of Col Gaddafi’s capture are true, then Mohammed al-Bibi is the man of the moment. Brandishing a golden pistol which he said belonged to Colonel Gaddafi he was hoisted up onto the shoulders of his comrades.
“Allah akbar” (God is great), they chanted as they unleashed volleys into the air. Mohammed, a fighter in his 20s, wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, said he had found the colonel hiding in a hole in the ground. He told the BBC that the former Libyan leader said to him simply: “Don’t shoot”.
Rebel fighters say the colonel has been taken by ambulance to Misrata. If this is the case and the rest of Sirte has indeed fallen then it will mark a turning point for Libyan revolution – the point at which it will be hoped, the fighting ends and the political process begins.
A soldier who says he captured Muammar Gaddafi told the BBC the colonel had shouted: “Don’t shoot!”
The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Tripoli says although the capture is unconfirmed, ships and cars have been sounding their horns in the capital and guns are being fired in celebration.
Earlier, NTC commanders in Sirte – about 360km (220 miles) east of Tripoli – said the city had been liberated.
“There are no Gaddafi forces any more,” Col Yunus al-Abdali told Reuters. “We are now chasing his fighters who are trying to run away.”
There was no confirmation from the NTC leadership.
But fighters in Sirte celebrated by firing in the air, and chanting “Allah akbar” (“God is great”).
Interim government forces had been facing heavy resistance from snipers in the city, and used heavy artillery during its offensive. Thousands of civilians have fled.
The NTC has also suffered heavy casualties in the town of Bani Walid, south-east of Tripoli, in recent weeks.
On Monday the NTC said it had captured 90% of the town, including the centre.
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