BENGHAZI/LIBYA: Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of the Libya rebel "capital" of Benghazi during the night to celebrate what they believed was the imminent fall of Moamer Qaddafi.
The sound of honking horns, assault rifles firing into the air and cries of victory pierced the super-charged night air as Arabic-language television stations announced that rebel forces had entered the capital Tripoli.
While some solemnly but joyously shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), others opted for insulting the flamboyant 69-year-old army colonel, who at times sported a sort of Afro-style hairdo, shouting "no more curly hair." And to continue the sartorial word play, someone shouts "they've captured baldy," a reference to Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, and the announcement sets off another roar from the crowd.
The streets are jammed with thousands of vehicles, their hazard lights flashing, as people headed for the Corniche, the Mediterranean seaside avenue that is the nerve centre of the six-month-old revolution.From the minarets of mosques, muezzins blared out their shared celebration in prayer.
Images of rebel fighters in the "liberated" capital were projected onto the white wall of a nearby courthouse, drawing cheers from the excited spectators. And when Mussa Ibrahim, the Qaddafi regime spokesman, appeared on the screen in his latest press conference, the cheers turned to jeers and cries of hatred, with some people hurling their sandals at his image.
The red, green and black flag, which flew over Libya until a Qaddafi-led coup overthrew the monarchy in 1969, could be seen everywhere -- on buildings, on T-shirts and being waved from the windows of cars.In the harbour, ships at anchor sounded their fog horns, while reckless teenagers set off sticks of dynamite on the beach.
From elsewhere, other explosions seemed to come from mortars and artillery being fired in celebration, as tracer fire crossed the sky.
Entire families came along to celebrate the fall of the "tyrant," moving among the smoke of impromptu barbecues and souvenir stalls.
People embraced, kissing each other, as they congratulated each other.In a rare sight for such a conservative society, where men and women are normally strictly separated, small groups of veiled teenage girls joined the crowd.
As fireworks burst overhead, some young rebel fighters, sweating from their exertion, took up a tribal dance to the sound of a drum."Libya is no longer what it was," shouts one man.
"Libya is on the move."Another, carrying the black-and-white photo of a brother killed in the early days of the six-month rebellion, said "the blood of the martyrs will not be shed in vain."