Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rights group sues US government over ‘deportation mill’

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels begin work on ceasefire

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Missouri town

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Africa

NTC forces in new push on desert oasis of Bani Walid

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-17

Forces loyal to Libya’s interim authorities have encountered heavy resistance from fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in their latest bid to storm Bani Walid, one of Gaddafi’s last desert holdouts.

AFP - Fighters of Libya's new regime have forced their way into the desert oasis of Bani Walid, one of the last holdouts of Moamer Kadhafi diehards, but encountered heavy resistance.

The intensified fighting in the desert town some 170 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Tripoli happened Sunday, even as the battle eased in the city of Sirte, the other main holdout of fighters backing the overthrown strongman Kadhafi.

"We attacked this morning from the southwest. Our men where inside the town this afternoon. But there was heavy resistance" from the Kadhafi loyalists, Jamal Salem, a commander of the National Transitional Council (NTC) forces, told AFP.

Salem said the new regime forces "have not retreated," but by Sunday evening he was unable to specify how far his fighters had managed to advance into Bani Walid.

The NTC forces mounted their fresh assault on the stronghold after launching a barrage of artillery fire against the positions of pro-Kadhafi fighters.

Abdallah Kenshil, an NTC official, told local television channel Libya Al-Ahrar that the fighters had reached the town centre, but the claim could not be independently verified.

A commander from the city of Zawiyah said three of his men were killed in the fighting.

Bani Walid is surrounded by NTC fighters, but their commanders pulled them back last week after suffering heavy losses and to prepare for a new offensive against the 1,500 pro-Kadhafi fighters thought to remain there.

Meanwhile in Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, where fierce clashes between NTC forces and those loyal to deposed leader Kadhafi have raged for a month, Sunday saw a lull with only intermittent shelling and rocket-fire, AFP correspondents said.

"We are shelling with tanks and anti-aircraft weapons and then we will send our troops onto the streets," said Salem Ahmed, a tank commander from the eastern city of Benghazi.

Ahmed said the advance was being held up by pro-Kadhafi snipers.

But "a few snipers can stop an army. They are very professional. They shoot in the heart, the head, the chest," he insisted.

The focus of the NTC operations are two seaside residential neighbourhoods, the Dollar and Number Two, where Kadhafi loyalists are holed up.

One NTC fighter told AFP there had been an exodus of civilians from the two areas Sunday and that the besieging troops wanted to give others the chance to leave.

Sunday's lull contrasted sharply with the previous day when Kadhafi loyalists mounted a fierce counter-attack in Sirte, forcing back the NTC fighters under a barrage of rockets and shelling.

A medic at a field hospital behind the eastern front line said four NTC fighters were killed and 22 wounded in the fighting on that side of the city on Saturday.

"Those killed were mainly from sniper bullets. And the wounded were injured by explosions and rocket attacks," Dr Ahmed Bushariya told AFP.

In the eastern city off Benghazi, officers of the former Libyan army on Sunday defended the institution's role in the revolution which brought down Kadhafi and pledged its support for the country's new rulers.

The military "fought alongside civilian revolutionaries right from the start of the uprising in February," insisted General Ahmed al-Gotrani at a conference on preparations for the formation of a new Libyan army.

"We backed up the revolutionaries with our experience, our advice, but also with arms and equipment," said the general, who stressed he was speaking on behalf of the whole army.

"Our army was treated with contempt and ignored by Colonel Kadhafi," Gotrani said, adding that "many soldiers were killed and sacrificed for the revolution."

Kadhafi himself has gone into hiding.

Officials in Bamako, meanwhile, said that more than 400 armed Tuaregs had arrived in Mali from Libya where they fought in Kadhafi's army.

The Libyan nationals of Malian origin crossed into northern Mali aboard a 78-vehicle convoy on Saturday "with weapons and luggage," a Malian security source said.

The repatriation of hundreds of fighters is "a serious worry", UN special envoy to west Africa Said Djinnit told reporters. The men arrived "in confusion, with big re-entry problems, which has increased the insecurity in the north of Mali."

 

 

Date created : 2011-10-17

  • LIBYA

    New regime forces take control of key areas in Sirte

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Libyan forces fight for Gaddafi's hometown

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Anti-Gaddafi forces seize strategic highway in Sirte

    Read more

COMMENT(S)