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Tampa lawyer in Libya startled by celebration

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 03:47 AM

Sally Woodward awoke to the sound of Libyan gunfire.

Though the corporate lawyer from Tampa has been in Tripoli since Sunday, she was startled by the noises at 1:15 p.m. because normally the gunfire happens only at night.

But as she realized what was going on — that Moammar Gadhafi was killed — she watched with interest the joy of the Libyan people.

From her hotel room in the Corinthia Hotel in the north-central section of Tripoli, Woodward saw hundreds of cars ride through the streets. The Libyans sat on car roofs and flew flags.

"They call it celebratory fire, and it's everything from small arms to rifles to machine guns to what sounds like 50-caliber shots going off," she said. "They're firing in the air and just happy. There are lots of horns honking and people screaming and they're just happy."

Woodward, who came to Libya on Sunday as part of her job for the Shutts & Bowen law firm, was hesitant to walk outside Thursday afternoon. Bullets fired in the air in celebration eventually come down, she said.

But from what she could tell, Libyans were in a partying mood.

"I walked down in the lobby, and people are more relaxed, they're happier," she said.

"They're taking their country back."


jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691

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