Celebrations mark Gaddafi’s death as Libyans rebuild a new democracy

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Muammar Gaddafi, a man who single-handedly ruled Libya for 42 years, died of gunshot wounds Thursday in an attempt to flee his hometown of Sirte and evade capture by Libya’s revolutionary forces.

After several weeks of intensive fighting against Gaddafi’s hometown and last major loyalist stronghold, Libya’s longtime dictator was pronounced dead Oct. 20, just after the start of the Libyan revolution eight months ago.

The identities of those killed or captured in the attack are unconfirmed as of now, as many of the details surrounding the attack will no doubt be revealed throughout the week.

Gaddafi, along with aids, bodyguards, senior officials and family members attempted to escape Sirte in a convoy heading west from the city. NATO airstrikes attacked the convoy, allegedly killing several drivers and officials accompanying Gaddafi.

The former Libyan leader was found in an exposed drainage pipe not far from the scene. He was captured alive but later died from gunshot wounds sustained in his capture.

Although Libyan officials have repeatedly stated that Gaddafi died from gunshot wounds in the crossfire, a conflicting report that he was shot in the head by a bodyguard has surfaced, despite the fact that the video shows Gaddafi wounded but clearly alive at the time he was captured.

Video footage shows a wounded Gaddafi jostled by crowds as he is taken away by soldiers, signaling an end of an era and the beginning of a new future for all Libyans.

Libya’s ruling council officially declared that the country has been “liberated” as the capturing of Sirte places all of the country’s ports, cities and major transit routes under the full control of the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Libya’s NTC announced that Gaddafi’s son Mo’tassim died after being wounded, and his other son, Saif al-Islam, was reported either captured or killed in the attack. Both statements are unconfirmed as of now.

With the country under NTC control, Libya’s leaders are now beginning to focus on the development of its fledgling democracy and the rebuilding of the country’s economy and infrastructure, which were damaged in the fighting.

Although many challenges remain, such as keeping Libya united without the common enemy of Gaddafi, his death signals the beginning of the end of the revolution that has proven that not only Libyans, but all those suffering under autocratic regimes, have a right to self-determination and possess the power to achieve it.