WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the reported death of Libya's ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, but there's still a long road to democracy for the country.
"Today, we can definitively say that the Gaddafi regime has come to end," Obama said in a statement delivered at the White House. He cited the government of Libya as the source, falling short of making independent confirmation of Gaddafi's death.
"The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted," and the Libyan people "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny," Obama said.
However, there will be difficult days ahead for the Libyan people, the president cautioned, adding that the North Africa country will "travel a long road to democracy."
Obama's remarks came hours after reports surfaced that Gaddafi died of wounds on Thursday after being shot in gunbattles in his hometown, Sirte.
The news was confirmed by officials of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), including head of its executive committee Mahmoud Jibril, and backed up by pictures of Gaddafi's alleged corpse with eyes half-open, shirt torn apart and a bloodied face, televised by the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV.
The anti-Gaddafi coalition that included the United States, NATO and some Arab countries prevailed in the conflict in the North Africa country, and the NATO mission there would "soon come to an end," Obama said.
NATO's decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, will convene for a special session on Friday to discuss its military operation in Libya, a NATO official told Xinhua on Thursday.
U.S. and NATO forces launched a bombing campaign against the Gaddafi regime in Libya in March. While the United States initially took the lead in that campaign, it quickly stepped back to a facilitating role to other NATO allies.