Deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi died of wounds suffered in his capture near his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, according to a senior National Transitional Council military official and a government minister.
The military official, Abdel Majid Mlegta, had told Reuters earlier that Gadhafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes had attacked.
"He was also hit in his head," said Mlegta. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."
Rebels also said they had captured Gadhafi's son, Mo'tassim, alive in Sirte, Arab news channels Al Jazeera TV and Al-Arabiya reported.
Asked if there was photographic evidence to prove that Gadhafi was dead, Mlegta said: "We have the footage but it is not available now."
However, AFP news agency provided a photograph that appeared to show a wounded or dead Gadhafi. The image has not been independently verified.
Al-Arabiya said on its website Thursday that it had been granted permission to photograph Gadhafi's body.
NBC's Adrienne Mong, reporting from Sirte, saw a massive convoy heading West toward Misrata. Gadhafi's body was rumored to be in the convoy, she reported, but NBC could not confirm that.
Past reports of Gadhafi family deaths or captures have later proven incorrect. NATO and the U.S. State Department said they could not confirm the reports, but were attempting to find out exactly what had happened.
Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the AP that he had confirmed that Moammar Gadhafi was dead from fighters who said they saw the body.
"We are checking and assessing the situation,"' a NATO official said. "Clearly these are very significant developments, which will take time to confirm. If it is true, then this is truly a historic day for the people of Libya.''
Military official Mlegta reported Gadhafi's death after Libyan interim government fighters took Sirte on Thursday, extinguishing the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the former leader and ending a two-month siege.
NATO warplanes struck the convoy and hit four cars as it headed west, Mlegta said, adding that the head of Gadhafi's armed forces Abu Bakr Younus Jabr had been killed during the attack.
A National Transitional Council spokesman said the NTC, not NATO, attacked and killed Gadhafi, Al-Arabiya reported.
Ahmed Ibrahim, a cousin and adviser of Gadhafi, was captured along with former government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, he added.
A Libyan government fighter gave an apparently different account of Gadhafi's capture to the one provided by Mlegta. The unnamed fighter claimed Gadhafi was hiding in a hole, shouting, "Don't shoot, don't shoot," when he was caught.
The sound of cars and boats in the harbor honking their horns in Tripoli, apparently as people heard the reports, threatened to drown out al-Jazeera's television report live from the capital.
Celebratory gunfire could also be heard and people cheered in the street: "God is Great, God is Great, Gadhafi has been captured."
Libyan fighters overran the remaining positions of Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte Thursday. The loyalists had held out two months after the fall of the capital Tripoli.
Reporters at the scene watched the final assault begin around 8 a.m. and end about 90 minutes later, the AP reported.
Just before the assault, loyalists in a convoy tried to flee the enclave down the coastal highway but they were met by gunfire from the revolutionaries, who killed at least 20 of them, according to the AP.
"Our forces control the last neighborhood in Sirte," Hassan Draoua, a member of Libya's interim National Transitional Council, told the AP in Tripoli. "The city has been liberated."
NTC fighters told Reuters that a group of some 40 vehicles carrying Gadhafi forces had broken out of the city and had headed west.
Despite the fall of Tripoli on Aug, 21, Gadhafi loyalists mounted fierce resistance in several areas, including Sirte, preventing Libya's new leaders from declaring full victory in the eight-month civil war.
Earlier this week, revolutionary fighters gained control of one stronghold, Bani Walid, and by Tuesday said they had squeezed Gadhafi's forces in Sirte into a residential area of about 700 square yards.
In an illustration of how difficult and slow the fighting for Sirte was, it took the anti-Gadhafi fighters, who also faced disorganization in their own ranks, two days to capture a single residential building.
It is unclear whether Gadhafi loyalists who have escaped might continue the fight and attempt to organize an insurgency using the vast amount of weapons Gadhafi was believed to have stored in hideouts in the remote southern desert.
Regional and ethnic differences have already appeared among the ranks of the revolutionaries, possibly laying the foundation for civil strife.
The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC News contributed to this report.