Protesters from Bani Walid demonstrate outside Libya's
national congress compound in Tripoli. About 500 protesters
broke into the grounds of Libya's parliament building on
Sunday to demand an end to violence in Bani Walid.
Libyan militiamen aligned to the Defence Ministry have
shelled the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, extending
a feud between two towns that demonstrates the country's deep
divisions a year after the veteran leader was killed.
Militias, many of whom are from Misrata, have been shelling
the hilltop town of 70,000 people for several days. Libyan
state news agency LANA said late on Saturday 14 people had
been killed and 200 injured in the fighting.
Libya's new rulers have led the nation to elections but have
struggled to impose their authority on a country awash with
weapons. Underscoring the chaos and confusion were
conflicting reports over the fate of Gaddafi's former
spokesman and his son.
While Misrata spent weeks under siege by Gaddafi forces in
last year's war, Bani Walid was one of the towns that
remained loyal to Gaddafi longest. It remains isolated from
the rest of Libya and former rebels say it still harbours
pockets of support for the old government.
"The attacks are continuing," Bani Walid militia leader
Abdelkarim Ghomaid said by phone. "The shelling is coming
from all sides."
He said Bani Walid fighters had captured 16 cars belonging to
militias from Misrata. This could not be immediately
Outside Bani Walid, hundreds of vehicles lined up in the
village of Weshtata, 80 km (50 miles) from Tripoli, waiting
to be checked by government forces as families fled the
"We are escaping the danger of the rockets, the shrapnel, and
the deaths inside. There hasn't been electricity for days,"
said one man who had his family in a pick-up truck.
Women and children sat in the back of other pick-ups, nestled
among blankets, mattresses and bundles of belongings.
Misrata was enraged by the death of rebel Omran Shaban after
two months in detention in Bani Walid. Shaban, from Misrata,
was the man who found Gaddafi hiding in a drain pipe in Sirte
on Oct. 20, 2011.
Libya's congress ordered the Defence and Interior Ministries
to find those responsible for abducting Shaban and suspected
of torturing him. It gave Bani Walid a deadline to hand them
"Fighting is continuing today. There is smoke rising over
certain parts of the city," one Bani Walid resident said by
Hundreds of families have also fled the fighting in Bani
Walid to Tarhouna, some 80 km away, where a statement from
the prime minister's office on Saturday said militias had
captured former Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.
However, in an audio clip posted on Facebook, a person
purporting to be Ibrahim, who held regular news conferences
in Tripoli during last year's war, dismissed news of his
There was no independent verification of the authenticity or
timing of the Facebook post, dated Oct. 20.
Some officials said Gaddafi's son Khamis had been captured in
Bani Walid and died after being taken to Misrata, however
there was no official written statement from the government
on this, as with previous captures of former regime figures.
On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur said on
his official Twitter account the announcement of Ibrahim's
arrest and Khamis's death was made without confirmation of
No photographs of either Ibrahim or Khamis in detention
surfaced after the reports. The government has previously
made false allegations regarding the capture of Gaddafi
Khamis was reported dead on at least three separate occasions
during last year's conflict. A Syrian-based television
station that supported Gaddafi said he had been killed in
fighting southeast of Tripoli on Aug. 29, 2011.