Libya plans secret Gaddafi burial

Libyan authorities are planning a secret burial within the next few hours for ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi following his capture and death. The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Tripoli says officials early on Friday were still undecided as to where and how it should take place. Earlier, officials said Col Gaddafi had been killed in crossfire after being captured in his birthplace of Sirte. Nato is expected to declare an end to its Libya campaign in the coming hours. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the alliance’s military operation in Libya could be considered “finished” with the death of Col Gaddafi. “I think we can say that the military operation is finished, that the whole of Libyan territory is under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and that, subject to a few transitory measures in the week to come, the Nato operation has arrived at its end,” he told Europe 1 radio from India. Our correspondent says that amid scenes of celebration across Libya, the authorities now have to decide how to deal with Col Gaddafi’s death and in particular his burial. However, questions are mounting as to exactly what happened in his last moments following his capture in Sirte, she adds. The deposed leader’s body was believed to still be in Misrata on Friday morning – the town he was taken to following his capture in Sirte. Authorities have denied he was executed. Golden pistol Jibril said Col Gaddafi had been shot in the head in an exchange between Gaddafi loyalists and NTC fighters following his capture. Video footage suggests Col Gaddafi was dragged through the streets. An NTC fighter told the BBC he found the former Libyan leader hiding in a drainage pipe and he had begged him not to shoot. The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi. Senior NTC member Mohammed Sayeh told the BBC he doubted that the colonel was killed intentionally, but added: “Even if he was killed intentionally, I think he deserves this.” He added: “If they kill him 1,000 times, I think it will not pay back the Libyans what he has done. We’ve lost over 70,000 of our best men because of this monster.” UK-based human rights group Amnesty International called for “a full, independent and impartial inquiry” into the circumstances of Col Gaddafi’s death. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an ally and friend of the colonel, called his death deplorable. “They murdered him,” Chavez told reporters. Despite the controversy, celebrations continued late into the night in towns and cities across Libya. Groups of young men fired guns in the air, and drivers honked their horns in jubilation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said Col Gaddafi’s death marked the start of a new era for the Libyan people. Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that with the death of Col Gaddafi, an end to the alliance’s involvement in the country “has now moved much closer”. “After 42 years, Col Gaddafi’s rule of fear has finally come to an end,” he said. “I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future.” Nato’s seven-month campaign of air strikes was carried out under a UN mandate authorising the use of force to protect civilians in Libya. Nato has carried out some 26,000 sorties and almost 10,000 strike missions. Corpse filmed Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country. He was making his last stand in Sirte alongside two of his sons, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam, according to reports. A body that officials identified as that of Mutassim has been shown on Libyan TV. A reporter with Reuters news agency described how the body of Mutassim – the former national security adviser to the Libyan government – had been laid out on blankets on the floor of a house in the city of Misrata, while people jostled to take pictures of the corpse with their mobile phones. There are conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of Saif al-Islam. Acting Justice Minister Mohammad al-Alagi told AP news agency that Saif al-Islam had been captured and taken to hospital with a leg wound. But another NTC official said his whereabouts were unknown.

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