Sunday, 4 September 2011

Fight on for a last Kadhafi bastion

 Updated at: 0756 PST, Sunday, September 04, 2011
Fight on for a last Kadhafi bastion
SHISHAN: Fighters for Libya's new rulers began an assault to overrun a bastion of Moamer Kadhafi.

"We are preparing to enter Bani Walid and we will fight," Mahmud Abdel Aziz, a local spokesman for the National Transitional Council told at a checkpoint in Shishan, just dozens of kilometres (miles) north of Bani Walid.

A dozen vehicles, including pick-ups mounted with heavy machine guns, were seen heading further south towards Bani Walid while a commander, Ossama Ghazi, also set off, saying: "There is fighting."

Abdel Aziz said he expected Bani Walid to "fall within hours." "Today, tonight, or tomorrow morning, in a few hours we will take Bani Walid," he said. "People there have asked for more time but our patience has worn out."

Earlier, the deputy chief of the military council of the town of Tarhuna, further north, said fighters for Libya's new leaders have given forces in Bani Walid until 0800 GMT Sunday to surrender.

Abdulrazzak Naduri said Kadhafi's son Saadi was still in Bani Walid, along with other regime cronies, while prominent son Seif al-Islam had fled the town.

"The revolutionaries have given an ultimatum to the tribal chiefs in Bani Walid," Naduri told in Tarhuna, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Bani Walid. "Either they raise the white flag of surrender or the fighting begins."

The offensive appeared to be well underway even though NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Benghazi that a truce declared until September 10 was still in force. "We are in a position of strength to enter any city but we want to avoid any bloodshed, especially in sensitive areas such as tribal areas," he said, adding military deployments would continue during the ceasefire.

The head of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) on Saturday gave Libyan cities still controlled by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi one week to surrender.

"We have given one week's notice to Sirte, Bani Walid, Jufrah and Sabha. This notice does not mean that we are not aware of what Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists are doing we are tracking everything," Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a news conference in Benghazi.

Naduri said Saadi Kadhafi, the toppled strongman's spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, and Mansur Dau, head of the revolutionary committees that propped up Kadhafi's regime, were still in Bani Walid.

But Seif al-Islam, the regime's most prominent face and vocal interlocutor, had fled two days ago, he said. "God alone knows which road he took," he added.

Meanwhile, Kadhafi regime intelligence files seen by AFP on Saturday appear to document deep cooperation between the CIA, MI6 and the former Libyan regime, including the shipping of terror suspects for regime interrogation. (AFP/Reuters)

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