Revolutionary fighters representing Libya’s new rulers encircled and entered Bani Walid, one of the last towns loyal to ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi today, and fought with gunmen in street-to-street battles.
Libya’s interim rulers had set a Saturday deadline for several holdout towns to surrender, but fighters surrounding Bani Walid, 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Tripoli, decided to go in early saying they wanted to protect civilians.
“They are in the north of the city fighting snipers, we have also entered from the east,” senior National Transitional Council official Abdallah Kanshil said, adding that they had also made their way in from the south.
He estimated forces loyal to Gaddafi to be at around 600 men, saying pro-Gaddafi reinforcements must have been recently sent to the town.
“People are very afraid, that is why we have to go in,” he said, adding they were not aiming for a “full-scale war” and had not received orders from central NTC command to enter the town.