News24

NTC tells civilians to leave Bani Walid

2011-09-13 14:19


Northern Gate of Bani Walid - Wary of alienating a powerful local tribe, fighters backing Libya's new rulers are urging families to leave the besieged town of Bani Walid before resorting to full-scale military force to take one of Muammar Gaddafi's last strongholds.

The drawn-out standoff at the town - home of Libya's biggest tribe, the Warfalla - has turned the obscure oasis 150km south of Tripoli into a new flashpoint in the North African nation's seven-month-long war.

Libya's new rulers are keen to bring the stubborn town into the fold as quickly as possible but have hesitated to employ heavy-handed tactics that could estrange the Warfalla and derail their efforts to create an all-inclusive government.

National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters at the northern gate of the city said they were giving civilians two more days to leave Bani Walid before mounting a full-scale assault. A radio address transmitted from the nearby town of Tarhouna was appealing to people to leave to safer areas, fighters said.

"We don't want to kill anyone. We do not want to turn them into enemies," said Abumuslim Abdu, an anti-Gaddafi fighter, his chest criss-crossed with ammunition belts.

"We are under orders from our commanders to proceed very carefully and avoid harming civilians."

Along with Gaddafi's home town of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast and the loyalist bastion of Sabha deep in the Sahara, Bani Walid is one of the last pockets of Gaddafi resistance.

Die-hard loyalists of the fugitive leader have put up stiffer than expected resistance, firing rockets and mortars from inside Bani Walid and deploying snipers in the town centre.

Fighters and residents said Gaddafi forces in the town centre still had plenty of support among local households who are defiantly flying Gaddafi's green flags above their homes.

Their cars and trucks loaded with sacks of personal belongings, families have poured out of Bani Walid, a scattering of sun-scorched houses spread around a terrain of rocky hills and valleys.

"Gaddafi, go away!"

"Those Gaddafi fighters inside the city are not soldiers," Aburaz al Furjari, who left his shop behind to flee to Tripoli. "They are local loyalists who received guns from Gaddafi."

NTC fighters estimated that about half of Bani Walid's families had escaped north towards Tripoli as well as towards the coastal city of Misrata, but many Gaddafi supporters had stayed behind.

After Tripoli's relatively quick fall last month, Bani Walid's fierce resistance has been a mystery even to local fighters. Residents say many people in the Warfalla tribe fear retribution because of their traditionally close links to Gaddafi's tribe.

"For many years the Warfalla have had a special connection to Gaddafi's clan. He gave them money, cars, houses in return for their support," said Addiladim Azzarog, a Bani Walid resident fleeing with his family to Tripoli.

"It's a very strong connection. They have always sided with Gaddafi."

A difficult local terrain, different from the flat desert that defines many other parts of Libya, has contributed to the lack of NTC progress at Bani Walid.

Sitting at the crossroads of transport routes south of Tripoli, Bani Walid is perched on the slopes of a sprawling valley criss-crossed by steep and narrow gullies, making any advance from the outside difficult and slow.

For now, Libyan national army troops and local anti-Gaddafi brigades are massing outside Bani Walid, waiting for orders to push forward.

At a checkpoint on the edge of the city built around an old Gaddafi-era guest house, bored soldiers chased around a donkey from a nearby farm shouting, "Gaddafi go away!"

Sitting on rugs spread out on the ground, some played with a pet scorpion kept inside an ammunition box. Poking it with a 14mm bullet from anti-aircraft gun, one fighter, Omar, said: "We will soon catch Gaddafi, too."

Comments
  • Illuminated - 2011-09-13 15:15

    Former US Congressman Walter Fauntroy claims he saw NATO troops behead Libyans as part of the siege to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime, a conflict Fauntroy attributes to the geopolitical agenda to re-colonize Africa. Fauntroy was a Congressman representing District of Columbia for a period of 20 years between 1971 and 1991. He embarked on a peace mission to Libya but soon went into hiding, with many fearing he had been killed. However, the former Congressman has re-emerged to claim he witnessed NATO soldiers commit war crimes. According to a report by Afro.com, Fauntroy “Watched French and Danish troops storm small villages late at night beheading, maiming and killing rebels and loyalists to show them who was in control.” “The rebels told Fauntroy they had been told by the European forces to stay inside. According to Fauntroy, the European forces would tell the rebels, “‘Look at what you did.’ In other words, the French and Danish were ordering the bombings and killings, and giving credit to the rebels.” Shocked by what he witnessed, Fauntroy fled back to the United States, vowing, “The truth about all this will come out later.” The Congressman added that NATO’s involvement in the civil war was primarily about preventing, “all efforts by African leaders to stop the recolonization of Africa.” CNN confirmed that Fauntroy was amongst the journalists holed up at the Hotel Rixos before he was released on August 25.

      Illuminated - 2011-09-13 15:16

      Fauntroy also claims that he personally met with Colonel Gaddafi during his time in the country. As we have previously highlighted, atrocities have been committed by both Gaddafi loyalists and rebel fighters, although the establishment media is loathe to report instances of black Libyan migrant workers being slaughtered or incarcerated by western-backed rebels. Numerous reports from international aid agencies confirm that rebels are rounding up thousands of innocent black migrants and taking them to prison camps as part of mass reprisals that include cases of indiscriminate killings, mistreatment and torture. Migrant blacks and sub-Saharan Africans comprise one third of the entire Libyan population, and a minority were hired by Gaddafi as mercenary fighters, but rebels are treating them all as enemy combatants, with reports of abuse, murders and mass arrests increasing in volume. Special forces troops from NATO powers were involved on the ground, having directed rebels for months, in the recent siege which drove Gaddafi out of his Tripoli stronghold. Whether or not Fauntroy’s claims are accurate, the fact that NATO has stood back while the rebel forces it commands, who are also being commanded by members of Al-Qaeda, launched a genocide against innocent black Libyans completely eviscerates the so-called “humanitarian” justification for NATO’s military intervention.

      Illuminated - 2011-09-13 15:17

      article from a non CNN, SKY, FOX news station...

      Anton - 2011-09-13 17:00

      Illumintated, I gathered that much, You more than likely got it from: www.gadaffiisthegreatestinthewholewideworld.lib

      slg - 2011-09-13 17:23

      Your source is a delusional evangelist who supports the nut Louis Farrakan. As a civil rights advocate, he inexplicably believes 90% of Libyans loves (emphasis on the present tense) the brutal dictator Moamar Gadhafi. Nice one Illuminated. Consistent with the other delusional information you post here.

      Bowhunter - 2011-09-13 18:03

      You would probably believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause too if Fauntroy wrote that he had met them...

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