Updated 12:39 AM EST
Muammar Qaddafi's final day most likely began as it ended: In a squeeze. He was almost surely in the 700-square-yard area of Sirte where Libya's ex-rebels had penned in the die-hard forces remaining loyal to him.
The transitional government had for some time speculated that Qaddafi was out wandering the desert, recruiting fighters for a counter-insurgency. Therefore, at around 8 a.m., the ex-rebels where probably unaware that their ultimate target was actually within their grasp as they began an assault on that small final area. It was around that time that Qaddafi got in a convoy to flee, according to most accounts.
Somewhere just outside of the loyalist-held area, NATO aircraft struck Qaddafi's convoy, but didn't kill him. According to NATO officials, they were unaware Qaddafi was inside. That airstrike, however, hastened his demise.
The Telegraph's Ben Farmer visited the scene where Qaddafi's convoy was hit and the ex-dictator's final moments played out. He writes: "Colonel Gaddafi was finally cornered in a drain underneath a road in open countryside to the west of the city of Sirte. Rebels said a column of vehicles tried to punch out of an encirclement at dawn. They parked up around 3-4kms west of the town, which was hit by a NATO airstrike. Gaddafi and several bodyguards were then forced to take refuge in the drain where they were then captured and taken away by revolutionary forces."
An ex-rebel fighter named Mohammed, "a young fighter in his 20s wearing a blue t-shirt and a New York Yankees baseball cap," told the BBC he found Qaddafi hiding in the tiny drain pipe. The colonel allegedly looked up and said simply: "Don't shoot."
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There are conflicting reports about how and at whose hands exactly Qaddafi died. It seems pretty certain he was alive when first captured. Al Jazeera aired video (below) of what is almost surely Qaddafi's final moments. The once-mighty ex-dictator is seen soaked in blood, apparently disoriented, either being led around by or restrained by ex-rebels, who brandish guns as they yell at him and tug his hair, and he appears to yell back. Still other video taken later of his body being dragged around show him covered in blood everywhere, seeming to be bleeding from the head and other places. Reuters reports Qaddafi died around noon and that an ex-rebel official said Qaddafi died after capture in a firefight between his supporters and his captors.
The Associated Press reports: "One fighter says after the convoy was hit, it turned back and re-entered a compound, which was then attacked by several hundred fighters. He says they found Qaddafi there, and someone shot him with a pistol. But a spokesman for a local military council says fighters had surrounded the convoy and exchanged fire, before finding Qaddafi in one vehicle, wounded in the neck. The spokesman says Qaddafi bled to death from his wounds a half-hour later. Fighters said he died in an ambulance on the way to Misrata."
Still, others report a different ending.
CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that some claim Qaddafi's own bodyguard shot him, in order to spare him the indignity of being captured.
An ex-rebel named Salem Bakeer told Reuters that he and his comrades gave chase to Qaddafi and his small retinue of bodyguards after they fled their convoy following the airstrike.
"At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use," said Bakeer. "Then we went in on foot. One of Qaddafi's men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me. Then I think Qaddafi must have told them to stop. 'My master is here, my master is here', he said, 'Muammar Qaddafi is here and he is wounded.' We went in and brought Qaddafi out. He was saying 'What's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?'. Then we took him and put him in the car."
At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said.
"They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him," an ex-rebel told Reuters. "He might have been resisting."
Ex-rebel Adel Samir told the Telegraph that Qaddafi was gunned down with a 9mm pistol, shot in the stomach. Imad Moustaf, another ex-rebel fighter, told Global Post Qaddafi had been shot in the head and the heart. Still other reports claim he was shot in the both legs.
Libya's interim prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said that Qaddafi was killed from a bullet to the head during crossfire between government fighters and his loyalists, The Guardian reported.
Sometime after Qaddafi was shot, freelance photojournalist Holly Pickett tweeted that she saw his body. Pickett says she was embedded with an ex-rebel ambulance, and spotted another ambulance packed with rebels speeding away from Sirte with Qaddafi's body.
"From the side door, I could see a bare chest with bullet wound and a bloody hand. He was wearing gold-colored pants," Pickett tweeted. "At every checkpoint between #Sirte and #Misrata, crowds had gathered and wanted to know if we were the ambulance with #Gaddafi's body in it. Upon hearing the truth, that #Gaddafi was truly dead, revolutionaries at the checkpoints were beside themselves, shouting with joy."
However his final moments may have actually unfolded, the numerous images of his body have already made the rounds on cell phones, computers and TV screens all over the globe, leaving little doubt that Libya's 42 years of Qaddafi's oft-cruel "Jamahiriya" rule is over.
Also captured and killed Thursday was Qaddafi's flamboyant fifth son - also his National Security Adviser -, whom Libyans had claimed a week earlier was already captured. An ex-rebel spokesman said Mutassim was killed "resisting his captors," Reuters reports. Additionally, the BBC reports that ex-rebels captured his famed former security chief, Mansour Daw, who, it had been reported, fled to Niger.
According to Reuters, Qaddafi will have a "secret burial."
(Below is a graphic video from first aired on Al Jazeera showing what is apparently Qaddafi's last moments alive, following his capture by rebels.)
(Below is a graphic video from Global Post, captured on the mobile phone of 21-year-old Ali Algadi showing Qaddafi being dragged from his hiding place, bloodied and dazed. Those present shout repeatedly, "Don't' kill him! Don't kill him! We need him alive." .)