News / Africa

Libyan Rebels Poised to Attack Gadhafi Stronghold

Pro-NTC fighters waiting for action near the Gadhafi-held town of Bani Walid, September 4, 2011.
Pro-NTC fighters waiting for action near the Gadhafi-held town of Bani Walid, September 4, 2011.
Scott Bobb

Forces opposed to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi say they have surrounded the town of Bani Walid, one of his last remaining strongholds, and they are preparing to attack his troops in Sirte next week if negotiations fail for their surrender.

Libya's National Transition Council urged civilians in areas still held by Moammar Gadhafi to come over to their side, as most of the transitional authority arrived Sunday in Tripoli.

VOA's Elizabeth Arrott is near Bani Walid and has this report

Minister of Transportation and Communications Anwar al-Faitouri told reporters the interim authority will be mostly in place within days. “Most of the executive office, which is the ministers, are here. A few ministers are still in Benghazi but most of us are here. [Of] the NTC, which is the parliament, some members are here and the rest are coming next week," he said.

The Libyan National Transitional Council has moved quickly to establish its authority in western Libya after anti-Gadhafi forces ousted Gadhafi loyalists from most of the region last week.

The Road to Bani Walid, Libya

Military officials say they are confident they can seize control of the remaining Gadhafi strongholds, but NTC leaders say they would prefer to negotiate a surrender in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

NATO, which has been been enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya, said its warplanes on Sunday hit military installations in and near Mr. Gadhafi's home town of Sirte, as well as at another stronghold, Bani Walid, 140 kilometers south of Tripoli.

While military operations continued in central Libya, life began to return to normal in the capital, Tripoli. Many businesses re-opened for the first time in two weeks, and traffic was heavy along the once-deserted streets.

Consumer goods, food and water were returning to markets. And fuel supplies returned to gas stations, although motorists still had to line up for hours in order to fill their tanks.

In the cool of the evening, families strolled the city streets while young men drove by waving the flag and chanting slogans, praising what everyone is calling the new, free Libya.

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