Libyan Government Claims Bani Walid
By Jack Phillips On October 25, 2012 @ 6:27 pm In Africa | No Comments
The Libyan government said Thursday that it now controls the desert city of Bani Walid after weeks of battling with fighters loyal to former strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
Bani Walid, located around 100 miles southeast of Tripoli, has been controlled by pro-Gadhafi loyalists since the end of the civil war last year.
Libyan army chief of staff, Youssef al-Mankoush, told Al-Jazeera that army soldiers were still chasing Gadhafi loyalists, but said that army operations had died down.
A government spokesman told the network that around 50 government soldiers were killed while around 100 people wanted by Libyan authorities were arrested.
A reporter with the Libya Herald, an independent publication that was formed earlier this year, entered Bani Walid Thursday morning but was stopped at a checkpoint about a mile in. He was told it was not safe to go any further, and that house-to-house searches were still being done by Libyan military forces.
It has been said that more than 25,000 people have fled Bani Walid during the recent flare up of fighting, but the Herald said the figure is probably higher.
The Libyan government-backed militia that led the assault on Bani Walid came from Misurata. The two cities have long been rivals.
Human Rights Watch adviser Fred Abrahams said the government needs to “reject acts of revenge” toward residents of Bani Walid.
“There is an urgent need to stop destruction of the town and begin reconstruction, as well as to prosecute those who broke the law,” he continued.
Furthermore, the Libyan government needs to deliver medical supplies, food, and fuel to Bani Walid residents.
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