Libya militia surrounds city
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 6:54 p.m.
Thousands of Libyan security force members and hundreds of militiamen have massed around the Libyan town of Bani Walid in a show of force that underscores how tense and fragile the country's security situation remains.
It has been almost a month since an attack by Islamist militants on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The faceoff at Bani Walid pits militia forces once loyal to deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi against Libyan security forces and militiamen from Misrata who were critical to the anti-Gadhafi uprising last year. The immediate cause is the Sept. 25 death of a militiaman who helped capture Gadhafi.
Security forces began laying siege to Bani Walid a week ago, demanding that Gadhafi loyalists implicated in the death of Omran Shaban be turned over. The siege has cut off food, water and medical supplies, with local doctors complaining that armed men set up a checkpoint on the main road from Tripoli, the capital, and blocked three vehicles carrying medical supplies, oxygen and medical personnel from reaching the town. Civilians trying to flee the town were prevented from doing so.
Amnesty International, the international advocacy group, last week denounced the cordon around Bani Walid. “It is worrying that what essentially should be a law enforcement operation to arrest suspects looks increasingly like a siege of a city and a military operation,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty.
Bani Walid was one of the last cities in Libya to capitulate to revolutionary forces after the fall of Gadhafi, and pro-Gadhafi tribes remain influential there. The conflict arose when Shaban and several colleagues from Misrata were sent to Bani Walid in July to help free several journalists from Misrata who'd been abducted by gunmen.
Instead, Shaban, who is widely recognized as the militiaman who found Gadhafi hiding inside a drainage pipe outside the city of Sirte in October 2011, was taken captive. He was shot and allegedly tortured.
Libyan authorities ordered that Shaban's abductors be surrendered, and when a deadline passed with no response from Bani Walid leaders, they called a general mobilization of forces to impose the siege. A new deadline has been set for Wednesday, though many in Bani Walid apparently were defiant and there were reports of fighting Monday, with at least one person killed.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Guilty verdicts for 3 CIA agents upheld in Italy
- Teen’s death sparks protests across Turkey
- Teen’s death revives Turkish street demonstrations
- Swedish journalist slain in Kabul
- Europe prepares to punish Moscow
- Malaysian military says missing jet changed course
- Pistorius’ former friend tells of fits of anger
- Western-backed Libyan PM removed
- Syrian civil war affects kids the most, U.N. says
- Vanished jet’s wild turn adds to mystery
- In North Korea, voting’s really a breeze: You must vote and you get 1 candidate