Senior officials of the provisional government in Libya said that the ousted leader, Moammar Gadhafi, was killed by the National Transitional Council troops near his hometown of Sirte Thursday morning.

The officials said the NTC forces shot and killed Gadhafi and took custody of his body. News agencies reported that NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil would be addressing the nation to announce the death.

NATO said its warplanes had attacked two vehicles of pro-Gadhafi forces near Sirte. However, it did not confirm Gadhafi's death.

TV channels telecast photos of a dead body that resembled Gadhafi. Celebrations began in Libya as reports of his death spread.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported a U.S. official as saying that the NTC had informed the United States that Gadhafi had been killed.

Gadhafi's autocratic rule in Libya lasted for 42 years. He was ousted by a bloody uprising which began in February last.