U.S. officials on Thursday scrambled to check reports that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had died after being captured near his hometown of Sirte following months of civil war.
Gaddafi was wounded in the head and legs as he tried to flee in a convoy that came under attack from NATO warplanes at dawn, a senior official with Libya's National Transitional Council told Reuters.
A senior Obama administration official said the U.S. was working to confirm the reports.
"We're working on it," the official said.
Gaddafi's death followed months of NATO military action in Libya that began over a government crackdown against pro-democracy protesters inspired by protests in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt that ended in the overthrow of long-standing autocratic leaders.
The United States led the initial air strikes on Gaddafi's forces but quickly handed the lead over to NATO, while taking a secondary role to Britain and France.
The NATO bombing campaign helped Libya's rebels take power.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday became the most senior U.S. official to visit Tripoli since Gaddafi's four-decade rule ended in August.
Clinton hailed "Libya's victory." But her visit was marked by tight security in a sign of worries that the country's new rulers have yet to establish full control over the country.
Gaddafi was wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians.
He was believed to be hiding deep in Libya's Sahara desert. His wife, two sons and a daughter fled to neighboring Algeria shortly after Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August.
Gaddafi body being taken to secret location: NTC official
The body of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is being taken to a location which is being kept secret for security reasons, a National Transitional Council official said Thursday.
Gaddafi died of wounds suffered Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown Sirte, Libya's interim rulers said.
"Gaddafi's body is with our unit in a car and we are taking the body to a secret place for security reasons," Mohamed Abdel Kafi, an NTC official in the city of Misrata told Reuters.