Libya fighters 'seize' ex-Gaddafi bastion

2012-10-24 14:52

Bani Walid - Libyan pro-government forces on Wednesday seized control of Bani Walid, one of the last bastions of Muammar Gaddafi’s ousted regime, an AFP correspondent in the town said.

Hundreds of fighters, mostly former rebels from the rival town of Misrata, converged on the centre of Bani Walid, firing in the air to celebrate and hoisting the Libyan flag on abandoned public buildings, he said.

Some of the fighters blasted the walls and windows with anti-tank rockets and Kalashnikov rifles.

Several rebel chiefs, whose fighters patrolled in vehicles mounted with heavy weapons, told AFP the town was "almost liberated," with only a few pockets of resistance left in its southern sector.

The town itself was deserted, with residents and foreign workers having fled since Sunday.

Fierce clashes in Bani Walid, which was accused of harbouring die-hard Gaddafi  loyalists, cast a pall over celebrations for the first anniversary this week of the overthrow of his regime in a bloody conflict.

The fighting fanned old tribal feuds and underscored the difficulties of achieving national reconciliation.

Victorious fighters

A scaled-up offensive against Bani Walid since last week came in response to the death of Omran Shaaban, 22, a former rebel from the city of Misrata who was credited with capturing Gaddafi.

Shaaban spent weeks held hostage in Bani Walid, where he was shot and allegedly tortured, before the authorities managed to broker his release.

He later died of injuries sustained during the ordeal, stoking tensions between his hometown Misrata and Bani Walid, long-time rivals which fought on opposite sides of the 2011 conflict, and galvanising the authorities to act.

The victorious fighters on Wednesday carried a massive portrait of Shaaban.

Clashes between pro-government forces and Bani Walid fighters over the past week killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, in scenes evocative of the civil war that led to Kadhafi's overthrow and death.

Tribal leaders and commanders in Bani Walid, 185km southeast of Tripoli, had accused "lawless Misrata militias" of seeking to annihilate their historic rival.

  • Sibusiso - 2012-10-24 15:48

    Wow and Nato, the UN or the useless AU hasn't condemned these lawless criminals that do not want to be opposed. You cannot force anyone to like anyone, is it not \freedom\ when the bani walid people oppose the leadership of the country? This is gonna lead to a long civil war, the people of bani walid will rise to these lawless misrata criminals who take the law into their own hands at some point in the future.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-24 17:38

      Sibusiso, Rubbish, The majority of people of Bani Walid support the new government, elections PROOF this. There are some pockets of gaddafi terrorists left, and they have to be aprehended or killed !!! Same here in SA, we hunt down scum like the 'boeremag, and see to it, that they can't cause any further tyranny. 30 YEARS of gaddafi terorrism is enough !!!!!!!

      Sibusiso - 2012-10-24 17:44

      When we hunt that scum, do we destroy their houses with tanks ?

      kobus.kaunda - 2012-10-24 19:48

      Mr.Anthony incase you havent heard,the Israeli's have just bombed a SUDANESE WEAPONS FACTORY that was holding chemical weapons that came from LIBYA!the only way humanly possible for the sudanese govt to get their hands on WMD's from LIBYA is due to the libayn govt simply handing them over to Bashir! it is time for you to take the blinders off as see that the UN and west were duped by the al-qeada rebels in libya! what more will it take for you to see this?

  • Sibusiso - 2012-10-24 15:54

    How many times will these bani walid seize bani walid ? Until there is no one alive there ?

  • mlungisi.fynn - 2012-10-24 17:31

    I thought Gaddafi was the problem.

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