Libya Fighting at Bani Walid Continues Into Fourth Day

Fighting continued for a fourth day in the Libyan town of Bani Walid, which the army said has become a haven for holdout loyalists of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Army units backed by militias from towns such as Misrata and Zlitan have been blockading the town since September 25, when Libya’s parliament, the National Congress, issued a decree authorizing security forces to enter the town and arrest individuals accused of a series of kidnappings.

Thick black smoke was visible today rising from the town as fighting continued despite a 48-hour-truce declared in the morning by Army Chief of Staff Youseff Mangoush. The truce declaration was reported by Al Jazeera television, with army spokesman Mohammed El Gandus saying it was being organized to allow civilians to flee the town, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli.

“All the families are still here, nobody decided to leave,” a town official, Abdul Salem Al Fukahi, said in a telephone interview. “They will stay in their homes and live or die.”

Army and militia forces have set up camps along a highway south of the town, and are moving into position Soviet-era tanks and 155 millimeter howitzers.

El Gandus said yesterday that several hundred Qaddafi loyalists are in the town, and they face jail if captured.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of Qaddafi, who was captured by rebel forces at Sirte, his birthtown, on Oct. 20, 2011, and died in circumstances that remain in dispute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Stephen in Tripoli, Libya at cstephen9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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