Libya: Renewed Clashes in Bani Walid
Guerillas loyal to Libya's late leader Moammar Qaddafi attacked the former loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid on Monday - killing at least four revolutionary fighters.
The murderous fighting in the town roughly 90 miles from Tripoli comes as the new government struggles to stamp out lingering resistance by pro-Qaddafi forces.
After the fall of Tripoli to anti-Qaddafi fighters in August, regime loyalists turned the town into a stronghold and held off revolutionary forces for weeks.
Even after Qaddafi’s capture and killing in October, the city and its surrounding region have troubled Libya's new leaders, who find themselves trying to unite a fractured country.
Qaddafi's 40-year rule was characterized by a dictatorial and erratic personality cult that held Libya's regionally and tribally divided populace in sway.
Mahmoud al-Warfali, a spokesman for revolutionary brigade in Bani Walid, told reporters as many as 150 pro-Qaddafi fighters raised the Qaddafi-era flag at the northern gate of the town and were battling revolutionary forces in the streets.
"These are Qaddafi remnants who tried to take over the city," al-Warfali said. "They have tried to do this before and take over the interim government's office, but thank God we have been able to fight them off."
He told reporters four revolutionary fighters had been killed in the clashes thus far. He did not know how many people had been wounded.
Bani Walid residents say the fighting erupted after revolutionary fighters arrested a loyalist in the town.
The clashes are considered serious enough that dozens of revolutionary fighters from Tripoli have been dispatched to Bani Walid to help, security officials say.