By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 9 July:
As a result of threats by militiamen from Misrata to attack Bani Walid, the sole enclave of counter-revolutionary sentiment in the country, elders from the Banu Yusuf tribe in Mizda, south of Gharian, have been trying to mediate today.
The threats follow the seizure in Bani Walid on Thursday of two Misratan television journalists who were covering the National Conference elections in the town. The two have been named as Yusuf Baadi and Abdul Qader Fusuq.
The outcome of the mediation is not yet known although the elders were due to report back in Misrata this evening. However, it is reported there that Bani Walid leaders, while saying that kidnapping was against the law and that they did not agree with it, have demanded the release of a number of their own fighters captured by Misrata during last year’s revolution.
Yesterday it was reported that Misratan forces had been meeting and were ready to go to Bani Walid to secure the release of the two men “ by force if necessary,” according Tahir Zaroug, also a television journalist from Misrata.
In the event, they were dissuaded from heading to Bani Walid by the intervention of the elders. The force planning to go to Misrata was, however, reported as massive.
One of the local Misrata commanders, Mohammed Al-Swehli, today gave Bani Walid 48 hours to free the journalists or the town would be attacked.
There is a long history of rivalry between Misrata and Bani Walid.
There is also a history of Bani Walid kidnapping people from other neighbouring towns. In April, Bani Walid forces kidnapped four members of Zliten’s Supreme Security Committee who were on their way to Sebha. The town’s price for releasing them was the release of over 20 people from Bani Walid detained in Zliten.