The White House was saying little Thursday morning about developments as it waited for official confirmation from Libya. Past reports of Gadhafi family deaths or captures have proven incorrect.
Officials in Libya's transitional government said Thursday that Gadhafi was captured and possibly killed in the fall of his hometown Sirte. There was no immediate confirmation from the country's most senior leaders.
Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said he has confirmed that Gadhafi was dead from fighters who said they saw the body.
Even before official U.S. confirmation of Gadhafi's fate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reacting to reports that Gadhafi was dead, hailed "an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution." The U.S. and Europe "must now deepen our support of the Libyan people," McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday morning the State Department has been unable to confirm the reports about Gadhafi. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Libya, where she said that she hoped the former leader would be captured or killed.
NATO forces have been engaged in a bombing campaign in Libya since March, under the cover a United Nations resolution authorizing the use of military force to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own government. While the U.S. took the lead in the early days of the campaign, it has since played a secondary role to other NATO allies.
Libyan fighters captured Sirte Thursday, two months after the fall of the capital city ofTripoli.