5 Sep 2011

Attack on Bani Walid 'imminent'

10:11 pm on 5 September 2011

Forces opposed to the ousted dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are due to storm the desert town of Bani Walid in Libya after talks with pro-Gaddafi forces there broke down.

The anti-Gaddafi leaders based in Benghazi say the talks never really got going because every time they tried to engage with them, Gaddafi loyalists opened fire.

Hundreds of fighters have been stationed outside the town for several days, waiting for the National Transitional Council to make its next move, and the attack is now said to be imminent.

The BBC reports that there appear to be some desperate men inside Beni Walid who fear retribution for what they did to try to suppress the revolution in Libya.

Bani Walid is one of four towns in the country which remain loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.

Earlier, another NTC negotiator said its forces were just 10 km from Bani Walid and inching forward, ready to attack what he said were an estimated 100 pro-Gaddafi fighters there if necessary.

Anti-Gaddafi forces have also closed in on the deposed leader's birthplace in the coastal city of Sirte, but appear ready to allow more time for negotiations there.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the interim government says it is now sure Colonel Gaddafi's son, Khamis, has been killed.

Khamis Gaddafi was the commander of the 32nd Reinforced Brigade, the best trained and equipped force in the Libyan military.

Security vacuum

The disintegration of Colonel Gaddafi's rule after a six-month war has left a security vacuum in Libya, with no state security forces, rebel fighters who are not part of any formal structure and huge quantities of unsecured weapons.

NTC officials announced plans to bring their heavily-armed fighters under control and try to integrate thousands of them into the police force and find jobs for others.

Officials said there would also be retraining and reintegration schemes for those who fought for Colonel Gaddafi.