“The army is controlling Bani Walid and I can announce that military operations have now concluded”,
Chief of Staff General Yusuf Mangoush,
The reality of events on the ground
Article from the Guardian
by Chris Stephen who is in Bani Walid
Bani Walid was supposed to be safe. The last of Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists were supposed to have been purged from this Libyan desert town, after an eight-day offensive by the army. Instead, there was mayhem here on Thursday, as it became clear the Gaddafi loyalists are far from beaten.
A mile into what has become a ghost town after weeks of fighting and siege, a checkpoint of tense young pro-government militiamen barred entry, saying fighting was continuing. The staccatto boom of an anti-aircraft gun mingled with the heavy thumps of rocket-propelled grenades from somewhere inside the town.
Told to turn back, the Guardian found the road into townjammed with cars bringing several hundred refugees back home. Barring their way were two sand-coloured militia pick-up trucks.
A bearded government militia commander could be seen with his pistol jammed against the head of the driver of a black sedan who was revving his engine. The commander withdrew his pistol, firing twice into the air, and the crowd panicked.
Seconds later one of the teenage militiaman opened fire with a machine gun, the bullets blasting over the heads of the terrified refugees.
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