Deepening crisis: reports of chemical weapons used, as fierce fighting rages near Bani Walid, Libya

Friday, October 26, 2012
By Paul Martin

TheExtinctionProtocol.com
October 26, 2012

LIBYA – Pro-government forces clashed Friday with fighters in a former stronghold of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi for the third consecutive day, the spokesman for the Libyan military’s chief of staff said, after talks to end the standoff broke down. Violence has flared periodically over the last year in Bani Walid, the most significant town in Libya still resisting the country’s new authorities since the end of the country’s civil war last year. Fighters of the pro-government Libya Shield militia had besieged the town, some 140 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Tripoli, for several weeks, blaming residents for the death of a well-known anti-Gadhafi rebel. On Wednesday, they launched a mortar and artillery barrage on the town, followed by a ground assault, saying that negotiations to hand over the suspects in the killing had failed. A day later, Libya’s Defense Ministry deployed military forces to the town. At least seven people have been killed and 80 wounded. Gen. Ali al-Shekhli said town elders and tribal leaders have promised to hand over men accused of killings during and after Libya’s civil war to the national army instead of militia forces that have besieged the town for weeks. Friday’s fighting comes on the eve of the anniversary of Gadhafi’s capture and killing last year, which brought an end to an eight-month civil war that killed thousands. Since the conflict’s end, Bani Walid has changed hands twice. Rebels captured it last October at the end of the war, but fighters loyal to Gadhafi shortly afterward rose up and expelled them, along with pro-revolution residents. There was an uneasy standoff that ended when Omran Shaaban, a rebel hailed as the fighter who caught Gadhafi, was reportedly kidnapped, tortured and killed by Bani Walid residents. With his abduction, simmering tensions boiled over and pro-government militias deployed to the outskirts of Bani Walid, imposing a siege and threatening to takeover it by force. Shaaban is from the nearby city of Misrata, which has been at odds with Bani Walid for decades. Misrata’s powerful and heavily armed militia was among the first to impose the siege, which fueled fears in Bani Walid’s of revenge attacks. –Las Vegas Sun

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