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NTC forces struggle to retake Bani Walid

01-26-2012 13:16 BJT

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The town of Bani-Walid to the south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, was the last stronghold of the former leader Muammar Gaddafi that was taken by NTC forces during last year's unrest.

But 3 months later, hundreds of local tribal elders are gathering to stage the city’s independence. NTC forces were reportedly expelled into the surrounding desert. The retaking of Bani Walid has now become the most serious challenge yet against the interim government.

Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters gather at an outpost south of
Bani Walid, in October 2011.

At this check-point 50 kilometers outside Bani Walid, NTC forces are on high alert.

They are trying to hold what they call armed Gaddafi supporters at bay by setting up barriers on the outskirts of the city.

NTC fighter Hassan Qassim said: "We are on the borders of Bani Walid to search vehicles that drive in and out from the city and to look for weapons or ammunition that could be sent outside or into the city to the loyalists of former regime. "

On Monday, a group of armed forces attacked the barracks of the pro-government militia in the town and forced them to retreat.

At least 5 were killed and dozens injured.

Head of Bani Walid military council Abdallah Mohamed Alkhazmi said: "The former regime loyalists and what is left of the former regime brigades have grouped and carried out an attack on the May 28 Martyrs Brigade, who were few in number at that time - about 30 people . They resisted with great bravery for eight hours, but eventually the May 28 Brigade fell. The May 28 Brigade is the symbol of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Bani Walid and also the connection between the rebels of Bani Walid and the rest of Libya."

Although the Libyan government says the situation in Bani Walid is stable, the violence is likely to heighten doubts about the NTC government’s ability. So far it has made little progress in reorganizing its armed forces after the unrest.

The expulsion of government forces also highlights the vulnerability of Libya’s new leaders. They have faced mounting criticism as they struggle to unify the oil-rich North African nations and build law and order.

Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: CNTV.CN

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