News / Africa

Residents Flee Libya's Bani Walid

Civilians flee as forces loyal to Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi clash with anti-Gadhafi forces in Bani Walid, September 12, 2011.
Civilians flee as forces loyal to Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi clash with anti-Gadhafi forces in Bani Walid, September 12, 2011.
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Residents of one of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's remaining strongholds fled Tuesday, as NATO and fighters for Libya's provisional authority continued to attack pro-Gadhafi forces.

Witnesses say dozens of cars left the town of Bani Walid while NATO planes flew overhead.  Reuters news agency reports the civilians were able to flee after some pro-Gadhafi fighters in the town abandoned their posts.

Also Tuesday, NATO said its airstrikes a day earlier near Sirte, another Gadhafi stronghold, struck one radar system, eight surface-to-air missile systems, five surface-to-air missile trailers, an armed vehicle and two command vehicles.  

Late Monday, the head of Libya's transitional government urged thousands of cheering supporters in the capital, Tripoli, to support a civil, democratic state that honors Islam and respects the rule of law.

The chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said his provisional administration seeks a state where "Islamic law is the basis for legislation," but rejects any extremist ideology "on the right or the left."

Jalil arrived in Tripoli Saturday for the first time since his allies chased Gadhafi out of the city. He addressed the rowdy crowd in Martyrs' Square, a site that until recently was used for pro-Gadhafi rallies. Jalil had been running the provisional government from the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that overthrew Gadhafi last month.

Jalil also called on Libyans to avoid reprisal attacks against Gadhafi holdouts, saying Libya's judicial system should alone administer justice to those "who harmed the Libyan people."

In a report issued Tuesday, Amnesty International said both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes during the six-month civil war. The report mainly details crimes against civilians committed by Gadhafi loyalists, but it also documents brutal revenge crimes committed by some provisional authority forces when loyalist fighters were ejected from eastern Libya.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Niger, officials said three of Gadhafi's generals arrived in the capital, Niamey, late Monday, after fleeing to the Nigerien city of Agadez earlier this week.  They are said to include General Ali Kana, who commanded Libya's southern forces.

Officials in Niger said Monday that 32 people close to Gadhafi, including his son Saadi, have fled to the central African nation since September 2.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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