Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fighters enter Bani Walid, battles erupt near Sirte: Libya

Fighters loyal to Libya’s new rulers launched what appeared to be assaults on the final bastions of Muammar Gaddafi loyalists on Friday, with fighting reported inside the town of Bani Walid and near Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte.

The battles at the two towns broke out a day before a deadline set by Libya’s interim National Transitional Council for Gaddafi holdout towns to surrender or face onslaughts.

NTC officials said the outbreaks of fighting meant the ceasefire had effectively been scrapped. That could pave the way for some of the final battles of a six-month civil war.

Fighters besieging Bani Walid went into the town a day ahead of the deadline to protect civilians and were engaged in street-to-street fighting with Gaddafi forces, an NTC official near the town said.

An NTC spokesman said battles also began outside Sirte in response to barrages of rockets fired by pro-Gaddafi forces. more