Khadafi stronghold Bani Walid taken by rebel forces
'This is a very important day because it now means Khadafi doesn't have even one town in Libya,' rebel says
Rebel fighters aligned with Libya's interim government fired their guns into the air in jubilation after the liberation of the town of Bani Walid, one of the final remaining strongholds of missing Dictator Moammar Khadafi. Bani Walid, located in desert hills 90 miles south of Tripoli, is reportedly where Khadafi remains in hiding. Journalists at the scene saw no sings of resistance on the part of the locals.
'Bani Walid is completely free. It is liberated, 100 percent,' Mohammed Shakonah, a military commander with the National Transitional Council said. Bani Walid was one of Libya's last repositories of armed resistance to the NTC.
Libya's new rulers are now a step closer to being in full control of the vast, oil-producing North African country almost two months after rebels entered Tripoli and ended 42 years Khadafi's strongman rule.
While there were good feelings among the rebel forces, the city bears witness to a prolonged and destructive battle. Streets are littered with empty bullet casings and lined with buildings damaged or destroyed by the fighting. Some buildings remained on fire, while others were flattened by NATO air strikes.
"If Khadafi could see this, he would give up," Abdelfattah, another NTC fighter in the central square declared.
"This is a very important day because it now means Khadafi doesn't have even one town in Libya," Ayad Sayed al Russi, a senior NTC commander said. "We hope that the residents who fled will come back now that the town is free."
Meanwhile, in Sirte, where Khadafi loyalists have been under siege for weeks, there was little indication of NTC forces making any progress.
A doctor for the medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in Sirte has estimated that 10,000 people remain trapped in the city of 75,000. Many are women and children, some are sick or injured.
In the front lines of battle, some fighters are irritated that their commanders have not ordered a big push to take the rest of the city.
There is also anger between NTC forces from Misrata to the west and from Benghazi to the east, who have accused each other of hitting their allies in "friendly fire" incidents.
"What we are trying to do is to limit attacks from the east and west to avoid friendly fire, and instead attack from the south," Mohammad Al Sabty, a field commander says.
"We have lost a lot of martyrs in recent days," said Mustafa Salim from a Misrata brigade. When Misrata units get close to Benghazi units "it gets harder," he said. "They fire at us and we fire at them."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bani Walid, Tripoli, Moammar Khadafi, rebels
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