Protests Follow Siege of Bani Walid
Hundreds of demonstrators stormed the grounds of the Libyan parliament in Tripoli to protest the siege of Bani Walid, a stronghold of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi. ”We are here to demand the government find a peaceful solution for the tribal war that is happening in Bani Walid,” protester Nasser Ehdein said. In a related incident, demonstrators in Benghazi reportedly destroyed the offices of a local TV station. The most recent round of clashes between pro-government forces and alleged Qadhafi loyalists in Bani Walid has left 26 people dead and another 200 wounded. The town has been shelled heavily over the past several days by militias who are said to be aligned with the Libyan Defense Ministry.
According to Omar Hamdan, a spokesman for the National Congress of Libya, Qadhafi’s youngest son, Khamis Qadhafi, was killed during clashes with police. “Bani Walid is becoming a center of opposition, and for people wanted for their crimes during the war of liberation,” said Abdulrahman Sewehli, a member of parliament from neighboring Misrata. An anonymous source indicated otherwise: “Misrata’s militias want to eliminate us. There are no Qadhafi people [in the city]. What is happening there is a battle between [Bani Walid’s people] and Misrata. They want to do to Bani Walid what they did in Tahoura,” he said. Tarek Mitri, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya expressed concern at the developing situation saying, “In the interests of national reconciliation and long-term stability of the country, a mediated settlement is urgently needed.”