By MACKENZIE WEINGER
10/20/11 8:35 AM EDT Updated: 10/20/11 1:47 PM EDT

Libya’s prime minister announced on Thursday that Muammar Qadhafi has been killed, and a United States official says Libya has confirmed the deposed dictator’s death to the U.S.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Qadhafi has been killed,” Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said at a press conference in Tripoli, according to the Associated Press.

The White House and State Department are monitoring reports Thursday from Libyan leaders that Muammar Qadhafi has been killed, but cannot confirm the situation at this time.

Reuters and Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that top officials in Libya’s National Transitional Council said Qadhafi died after sustaining injuries during his capture outside of Sirte, his hometown. There has been no independent verification of the reports, however, but NATO, the State Dept. and the White House are all attempting to verify Qadhafi’s status.

An unnamed U.S. official said Libyan leaders have told the U.S. that Qadhafi is dead, the Associated Press reported.

And the AP also writes that Qadhafi’s body is being taken to Misrata and crowds have gathered around the vehicle saying, “The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN she was not able to confirm the reports, and only said if Qadhafi was captured or killed would “add legitimacy and relief to the formation of a new government.”

CNN also showed a clip of the moment Clinton heard the news of his possible capture. She was handed a Blackberry and after reading the report immediately blurted out, “Wow!” Clinton then noted that the report was “unconfirmed” and said “we’ve had a bunch of those before.”

And State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland earlier issued a statement saying, “The State Department cannot at this time confirm media reports on the capture or killing of Muammar Qadhafi.”

A State Dept. official told CNN that it “looks like he’s been killed.”

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Qadhafi’s death “marks an historic transition for Libya.”

“In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebrations as well as grief of those who lost so much … (Libyans must) recognize immediately that this is only the end of the beginning … now’s the time for all Libyans to come together,” he said.

And British Prime Minister David Cameron also spoke about the news, saying “Today is a day to remember all of Qadhafi’s victims,” according to the AP.

“People in Libya today have an even greater chance after this news of building themselves a strong and democratic future. I am proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who helped to liberate their country,” he said, according to The Guardian.

NTC officials initially told Al-Jazeera and Reuters that Qadhafi had been arrested and wounded near Sirte. Reports then began pouring in saying that the ousted leader had died, with NTC information minister Mahmoud Shammam telling Reuters Qadhafi was killed during the NTC attack.

Shammam said NTC fighters informed him they had seen Qadhafi’s body.

“Our people in Sirte saw the body,” Shammam told the AP. “Revolutionaries say Gadhafi was in a convoy and that they attacked the convoy.”

And the NTC’s military chief Abdul Hakim Belhaj told Al Jazeera that Qadhafi had died from his wounds.

NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta also told Reuters that Qadhafi “was also hit in his head. There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.” Mlegta said the NTC has “the footage but it is not available now.”

Al Jazeera also reported that NTC forces captured Qadhafi’s son Mo’tassim in Sirte, while Reuters said Mlegta has reported that Mo’tassim was killed by NTC fighters.

NTC official Mohamed Abdel Kafi also said that Qadhafi’s body was being moved to a secret location. A photo is circulating of a wounded or dead man that NTC officials say is of Qadhafi, Reuters wrote. And Al Jazeera has broadcast footage of what appears to be Qadhafi’s body.

Reuters reported at first that Mlegta said Qadhafi had been captured and shot in both legs.

“He’s captured. He’s wounded in both legs … He’s been taken away by ambulance,” he told Reuters.

Majid told Reuters that Qadhafi was attempting to leave in a convoy as NATO warplanes attacked. A Libyan government fighter said he saw the arrest, and says Qadhafi shouted “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” as he was hiding in a hole, Reuters added.

NATO has confirmed its aircraft struck a convoy of pro-Qadhafi forces, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that anti-Qadhafi radio station Voice of Free Libya has said “the confirmed news is that he has been arrested but it is unknown in which condition.”

The NTC’s information minister Mahmoud Shamman told al-Jazeera that “we can say that Sirte is liberated,” according to The Guardian. However, he said he “cannot confirm anything but people over there are talking they caught a big fish.”

The reports touched off celebrations across Libya, with people honking their car horns and firing guns into the air.

The transitional government said it has also taken Sirte, Qadhafi’s hometown and the deposed dictator’s last major stronghold of support.

“Our forces control the last neighborhood in Sirte,” NTC official Hassan Draoua told the Associated Press. “The city has been liberated.”

Although Qadhafi’s death has not been officially confirmed, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement responding to the reports on Thursday.

“The death of Muammar Qaddafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution. While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country,” wrote McCain, who recently visited Tripoli.

“Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans. The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country,” he added.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who visited Libya with McCain, said in a statement: “Today marks the end of Qadhafi’s reign and a new opportunity for freedom, prosperity and a voice in the global community for Libyans. The Administration, especially Secretary Clinton, deserve our congratulations.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, who also made the trip to Libya, told Fox News on Thursday that the French and British deserve the credit for Qadhafi’s death.

“Ultimately, this is about the freedom and liberty of the Libyan people. But let’s give credit where credit is due: it’s the French and British that led on this fight and probably even led on the strike that led to Qadhafi’s capture or, you know, to his death,” the Republican Senator from Florida said.

Rubio added that President Barack Obama “did the right things, he just took too long to do it and didn’t do enough of it.”

After 42 years in power, Qadhafi went into hiding on August 21 with the fall of Tripoli to opposition forces. According to reports, several members of his family fled the country several weeks ago.

Josh Gerstein and Charles Hoskinson contributed to this report.