Tripoli, 22 October:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is alarmed by the fighting at Bani Walid and reports of growing civilian casualties.
It is reported yesterday that some 26 people had been killed in the fighting and 200 wounded, although the Libya Herald was told in Misrata that 13 soldiers alone had been killed in Saturday’s offensive and 121 wounded.
In a statement issued in New York last night, Sunday, he called on the Libyan authorities and those in the town to immediately start a process to solve the stand-off peacefully, and reminded them of “their obligations under international humanitarian law”.
The state “and those militias acting in its name” have, he said “ a responsibility to the people of Libya to act fully in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights law”.
Expressing concern about reports of “indiscriminate” shelling, he warned everyone involved in the fighting to be “aware that the international community is closely monitoring the situation.”
Ban Ki-moon also noted, however that the Libyan authorities “must be able to extend Libyan sovereignty and state control and services throughout the territory of Libya”.
He urged all Libyans to work together to strengthen the legitimacy and effectiveness of state institutions across the country.
Ki-moon said that he believed that the situation in Bani Walid could be resolved in a peaceful manner that preserved the rights of all Libyan citizens while permitting the state to exercise its responsibilities. [/restrict]