TRIPOLI: Libyan fighters linked to the army Friday pounded the town of Bani Walid, a former bastion of toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, killing a man and a child, according to a medic. “We have received two people dead and more than nine wounded until now,” said Abdullah al-Mansuri, deputy director of Bani Walid’s hospital. “The shelling is ongoing so the number of casualties could grow,” he said, adding that those killed were a 13-year-old boy and a man in his fifties.
The spike in violence comes one year after rebels defeated die-hard loyalists of the former regime both in Bani Walid and the desert city of Sirte, hometown of Gadhafi who was captured and killed on Oct. 20, 2011.
The crisis in Bani Walid was triggered by the death of Omran Shaaban, a native of the rival city of Misrata who was credited with catching the dictator last year.
Shaaban, 22, was kidnapped in July and held hostage for weeks in the oasis town, where he was allegedly tortured, before the authorities brokered his release.
Shaaban died last month succumbing to gunshot wounds sustained during that ordeal.
Libya’s national assembly on Sept. 25 gave an order to the Interior and Defense ministries to find the perpetrators in Ban Walid, authorizing force if necessary.
Clashes prevented the president of the assembly, Mohammad al-Megaryef, from reaching the town Thursday. He had been expected to meet with tribal leaders and commanders to negotiate a peaceful entry for the armed forces.
And violence Wednesday claimed at least 11 lives and left scores wounded.