As world leaders gave their reaction, President Obama said the death of Muammar Gaddafi marked the end of a long and painful chapter for the Libyan people.
For four decades, he added, human rights had been denied and innocent civilians detained, beaten and killed – but now the regime had come to an end.
“This is a momentous day in the history of Libya. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted and with this enormous promise the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build and inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship,” he said from the White House.
The UK also suffered directly from Libyan terrorism under Gaddafi. In 1984, a gunman from the Libyan Embassy in London opened fire on demonstrators in broad daylight, killing British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher.
David Cameron said he was proud of Britain’s role in Libya’s transformation.
“I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims. From those who died in connection with the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, to Yvonne Fletcher on a London street, and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan Semtex. We should also remember the many Libyans who died at the hands of this brutal dictator and his regime,” the prime minister told reporters in Downing Street.
France also played a leading role within NATO in aiding Gaddafi’s overthrow – and is ready to help with the next phase.
“It is the beginning of a new period: the period of building of democracy and freedom for the people and rebuilding, reconstruction of the Libyan economy,” said Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.
Western military intervention followed Russia’s abstention from a UN Security Council vote. Moscow later recognised the National Transitional Council as Libya’s government.
“We hope that there will be peace in Libya,” said President Medvedev, “and that all those who are governing the Libyan state, the different representatives of Libyan tribes will reach final agreement in the configuration of power and that Libya will be a modern democratic state.”