By George Grant.
Tripoli, 8 October:
Renewed clashes have occurred today between government-controlled forces and fighters from the former pro-Qaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid.
The fighting, which began this morning, is reported to have taken place in the Mordum area, around 30 kilometres southwest of one of the government’s four front lines at Bir Dufan.
“Clashes have occurred today and the situation is very dangerous”, said Ahmed Langhi, an independent Congressmen and member of the negotiations team attempting to resolve the Bani Walid crisis.
“There have been some injuries reported, but no fatalities”.
The exact cause of the fighting remains unknown, but Langhi said that some Misratans on the government side were eager to commence with an assault on the town.
“These young people, they want to fight”, he said. “We are trying to control them”.
One Bani Walid resident, who requested to remain anonymous, claimed that government forces had used Grad rockets and howitzers against the city, but this has not been confirmed.
When the Libya Herald visited Bir Dufan on Thursday, commanders insisted they had no artillery and refused to give specifics about other types of weapons at their disposal. However, some soldiers at the camp said that they had five Grad multiple rocket launchers stationed further down the road towards Bani Walid.
This latest round of clashes come six days after fighting in the same area resulted in at least one fatality on the Bani Walid side and several injuries.
In that instance, it is said that fighters from the town moved towards the Bir Dufan front line and that forces had been dispatched to intercept them.
Several thousand government-controlled soldiers continue to surround Bani Walid at four separate locations.
A deadline for the town to surrender those responsible for the capture, shooting and alleged torture of Omran Shaban, the Misratan revolutionary credited with first discovering Muammar Qaddafi last October in Sirte, expires on 10 October. Shaban died in a hospital in Paris on 25 September.
The original deadline of 5 October was extended after an intervention by National Congress President Mohamed Magarief calling for more time to enable a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Congress has authorised the ministries of defence and interior to use all necessary measures, including the use of force, if the suspects are not handed over by that time.