The truck then got caught in crossfire as it headed toward a hospital, and Gaddafi was shot in the head, Jibril said.
“That was the deadly shot,” he said in an interview. The former leader died shortly thereafter, he said.
But cellphone videos showed Gaddafi being loaded on a truck, blood spattered on his face and chest, suggesting he was wounded before boarding the truck.
“We got you!” revolutionaries in camouflage yelled as they crowded around the wounded former leader.
A doctor took samples from Gaddafi’s body, including blood and saliva, to confirm his identity, Jibril said. The doctor also clipped off pieces of the former dictator’s hair — only to discover he was wearing a wig, according to the prime minister.
Gaddafi’s reign ended in late August, when revolutionaries flooded the capital.
Now, the question is whether forces united in their hatred of Gaddafi can come together and govern a country that has never known democracy.
“The challenge was, and still is, to regain security in the cities,” which are effectively under the control of local militias and awash in arms, Jibril said in an interview.
Gaddafi leaves such a vacuum that interim leaders are not even sure what kind of laws they can use to try the thousands of pro-
Gaddafi prisoners detained during the conflict. Different tribes may jockey for power, and conflicts are likely between Islamists and more secular Libyans.
A NATO official said Gaddafi’s death would not necessarily mean an immediate end to alliance action in the country, adding that NATO has not yet held formal discussions on ending the mission.
“It’s not like walking out of a room and switching off the light,” the official said, speaking under alliance ground rules that he not be named. But, the official said, “now that the last area has fallen, we’re not going to see any strike missions, are we?”
President Obama called Gaddafi’s death “the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”
World leaders on Thursday called on Libyans to reconcile and not resort to revenge killings. While Gaddafi’s slaying eases fears he might be able to mount some sort of insurgency from captivity, his son and right-hand man, Saif al-Islam, remains on the run, officials said.
Gaddafi’s body was at a mosque in the city of Misurata, west of Sirte, on Thursday night. He will be buried in an undisclosed location, officials said.
The interim government is expected to officially declare the country liberated on Saturday, triggering the appointment of a new temporary government and a timetable for elections, expected in about eight months.
Officials said the ceremony may occur in Benghazi, the eastern city that was the birthplace of the revolution. There has already been tension between that city’s revolutionaries and those from other parts of the country who worry they are not getting their due in a new government.
The new government has made slow progress because of the prolonged siege of Sirte, where Gaddafi supporters put up unexpectedly strong resistance.
“We’ve been in a political no-man’s land” waiting for Sirte to fall, said Peter Cole, a Middle East analyst in Libya. That has fed infighting among the militias, he said.
Jibril said he was relieved that Gaddafi was dead. Still, he said, he would have preferred that the former leader had survived to stand trial
“I wish he was caught, and I would be the prosecutor,” he said. “I just want to ask him one question: Why?”
Staff writers Greg Jaffe in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Berlin and special correspondent Ayman al-Kekly in Tripoli contributed to this report.