Video footage indicates he later died, and possibly was beaten to death in humiliating fashion in his hometown. Fighters said he was shot with a 9mm pistol.
His death brings to an end more than 40 years of brutal rule and has ended in the biggest victory of the Arab Spring.
The Times of India said Gaddafi shouted "Don't Shoot, Don't Shoot," to no avail when he was discovered hiding in an underground bunker's concrete tunnels. An Al Jazeera video suggests he was beaten to death after being shot. A DNA sample will be required to confirm it is the true dictator.
Some unconfirmed reports said the U.S. military had been involved in the capture after attacking a convoy, and that he was taken alive.
Libyans took to the streets to celebrate. Le Monde said the entire city of Sirte was liberated, though it was devastated by NATO bombs and the fighting between NTC fighters and Gaddafi supporters. An Al Jazeera reporter said Sirte had received so much money from Gaddafi that it was a jewel of the kingdom before the fighting.
The two news outlets quoted the NTC government. President Obama confirmed the death. It was a major victory for the U.S., France, the U.K., the Arab League and other supporters. For Moscow it was a slap in the face.
Photos Al Jazeera.
“We announce to the world that Gaddafi has died at the hands of the revolution,” Abdel Hafez Ghoga, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council, was quoted by Al Arabiya as saying.
“It is a historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Gaddafi has met his fate.”
Al Jazeera and the BBC reported the death. Video footage appeared to show the body being brutalized. He had been hiding like Saddam Hussein, in under ground concrete tunnels, nothing like the defiant warrior waiting to return as described by so many in the mainstream media. He may go down in history as the most successful manipulator of the media of all time.
The body of the former Libyan leader was taken to a location which is being kept secret for security reasons, an NTC official told Al Jazeera.
"Gaddafi's body is with our unit in a car and we are taking the body to a secret place for security reasons," Mohamed Abdel Kafi, an NTC official in the city of Misrata, told Reuters.
Many will be pleased, including relatives of more than 400 passengers and crew on the Pan Am Lockerbie flight and UTA 772. His agents killed thousands of Libyans.
It took less than a year to bring him down, mocking those who insisted he would be able defiantly lead a desert war for years.