WASHINGTON - French warplanes and a U.S. Predator drone on Thursday morning attacked a giant convoy of more than 100 four-wheel drive vehicles fleeing west out of Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports the convoy tried to evade the aircraft by splitting into smaller parts, but at least 15 of them were hit and their occupants killed. The vehicle, which turned out to be carrying Qaddafi, was damaged but not destroyed. Qaddafi and his bodyguards abandoned the vehicle and took cover in drainage pipes running under the highway where they were cornered by a band of anti-Qaddafi fighters.
Already festooned with graffiti, it is where Qaddafi, who once lived in splendor, made his last stand. Who shot him is still a mystery. According to one account, it was his own bodyguards, one of whom can be seen lying dead on the ground -- presumably to spare him from being captured. Grandiose to the end, Qaddafi was armed with a golden pistol, which is now a prize trophy for rebels who eight months ago didn't stand a chance against one of the world's most repressive regimes.
As the gruesome video below shows, Qaddafi was taken alive and handled roughly. Whether he would have survived his wounds with better treatment is not known. One of his sons was also killed Thursday and another reported captured. With most of Qaddafi's inner circle either dead, captured or in exile, NATO -- after flying more than 26,000 missions -- can now end its bombing campaign. That could happen as soon as tomorrow although reconnaissance flights are likely to continue a while longer.
Now comes the hard part - establishing a democratic form of government in a country that has known nothing but Qaddafi for the past four decades.
(Below is a graphic video first aired on Al Jazeera showing what is apparently Qaddafi's last moments alive, following his capture by rebels.)