News24

Libya's Bani Walid attacked, 11 killed

2012-10-18 07:50

Tripoli - At least 11 Libyans were killed and scores wounded in clashes on Wednesday when ex-rebels linked to the army attacked Bani Walid, a former bastion of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, local sources said.

"Clashes today left four dead and 19 wounded in the ranks of Libya Shield," said a commander of the brigade which operates under the banner of the army.

The deputy director of Bani Walid's hospital, Abdullah al-Mansuri, told AFP that his facility had received another "seven dead people and 75 wounded, including a 14-year-old girl."

"Bani Walid was shelled from three fronts today," said Massud al-Waer, a local official in Bani Walid. Dozens of residents were wounded in the assault, he told AFP.

The attack came exactly one year after former rebels declared the liberation of Bani Walid, which remained loyal to the long-time leader throughout the 2011 conflict that led to his ouster and death.

Rebels defeated Bani Walid fighters loyal to the former regime on 17 October 2011 - just three days before Gaddafi was captured and killed in his hometown of Sirte.

But many Libyans feel Bani Walid, 170km southeast of Tripoli, was never truly "liberated" and see it as a shelter for regime loyalists and criminal gangs.

The hilltop town came back into focus last month after the death of a former rebel from the city of Misrata who was credited with capturing Gaddafi and was later kidnapped, allegedly tortured and shot in Bani Walid.

The death of former rebel Omar ben Shaaban, 22, stoked tensions between Misrata and Bani Walid, neighbouring but historically rival cities which found themselves on opposite sides of the 2011 conflict.

Use of force

The General National Congress (GNC), the highest political authority, ordered the defence and interior ministries on September 25 to find those who held him hostage for weeks in Bani Walid and authorised the "use of force if necessary".

Acting on the national assembly's order, army troops and brigades made up of ex-rebels encircled Bani Walid in early October and threatened to "purge" former regime remnants.

On Wednesday, Shield Libya officers and fighters from the city of Misrata said that they had received orders to advance into Bani Walid but the army's spokesman, Colonel Ali al-Sheikhi, swiftly denied this.

"We gave no order to attack," Sheikhi told AFP, adding that the authorities wanted to give a chance for negotiations to succeed.

Later, the chief of staff said in a statement carried by the official news agency LANA that the army was in fact "ready to enter Bani Walid."

The statement called on "all parties to exercise self-restraint" so that "units of the regular army can impose the authority of the state."

Last week, tribal chiefs interviewed by AFP in Bani Walid said that they would refuse the entry of "lawless militias" into the town and stressed that there was no such thing as an army in Libya.

The new authorities, under pressure to rebuild the army and police force, have had a hard time controlling dozens of militias made up of former rebels.

Comments
  • Sibusiso - 2012-10-18 08:05

    Nato should arm Bani Walid to defend itself against these lawless misrata terrorists.

      langakumalo - 2012-10-18 08:37

      That a good one Sibusiso!

  • Ari - 2012-10-18 10:06

    The NATO powers and the bureaucrats they installed in Libya want you to think that all 5.6 million Libyans are happy that NATO and its proxy terrorists destroyed Libya, a country which under Gaddafi had the highest standard of living in Africa. They want you to think that NATO brought “freedom and democracy” to Libya, not chaos and death. They want you to think that there is no Green Resistance to the NATO imperialists or NATO’s Islamist allies in Benghazi. In reality, the Resistance has been increasingly active since shortly after the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. They strike any NATO target they can, and they execute key Libyans who betrayed Gaddafi and sided with NATO. The Benghazi incident was merely their latest blow against what they see as NATO’s illegal occupation of their country. Everyone in Libya knows about the Green Resistance, whose members are called “Tahloob” (Arabic for “Gaddafi loyalists”). The denial only happens outside of Libya, by the NATO powers and their dutiful Western mainstream media. Because of this denial, and because most of the world’s people have forgotten about Libya, the internet is filled with blind guesses, unfounded claims, and ridiculous counterclaims regarding the Benghazi incident last month in which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and at least three other American personnel were killed. And the NATO lie factory is operating at full blast.

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