Benghazi: Muammar Gaddafi loyalists
seized control of a Libyan mountain city in the most serious challenge to the central government since the strongman`s fall, underlining the increasing weakness of Libya`s
Western-backed rulers as they try to unify the country under
The taking of Bani Walid, one of the last Gaddafi strongholds captured by the new leadership late last year, was
the first such organized operation by armed remnants of
A simultaneous outbreak of shootings in the capital and
Libya`s second largest city Benghazi raised authorities`
concerned that other networks of loyalists were active
The security woes add to the difficulties of the ruling
National Transitional Council, which is struggling to
establish its authority and show Libyans progress in stability
and good government. Bani Walid`s fall comes after violent protests in Benghazi, where Libyans angry over lack of reform stormed the NTC headquarters and trashed offices.
In Bani Walid, hundreds of well-equipped and highly
trained remnants of Gaddafi`s forces battled for eight hours
on Monday with the local pro-NTC revolutionary brigade, known
as the May 28 Brigade, said Mubarak al-Fatmani, the head of
Bani Walid local council. The brigade was driven out and
Gaddafi loyalists then raised their old green flag over
buildings in the western city.
Four revolutionary fighters were killed and 25 others were
wounded in the fighting, al-Fatmani said.
There were no immediate signs that the uprising was part
of some direct attempt to restore the family of Gaddafi, who
was swept out of power in August and then killed in the nearby
city of Sirte in October. His sons, daughter and wife have
been killed, arrested or have fled to neighboring countries.
Instead, the fighting seemed to reflect a rejection of NTC
control by a city that never deeply accepted its rule,
highlighting the still unresolved tensions between those who
benefited under Gaddafi`s regime and those now in power. Those
tensions are tightly wound up with tribal and regional
rivalries around the country.