By Essam Mohammed
Forces of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) advanced on Bani Walid from three directions in recent days in an effort to rout the remaining Kadhafi loyalists.
From the west, revolutionaries attacked from the city of Nasmah, capturing Tininay, the second largest local village in terms of population after central Bani Walid. Tininany is roughly 60 kilometres southwest of the city centre. NTC fighters then advanced on the village of al-Smeikh before engaging in clashes near the airport, just three kilometres from the centre of Bani Walid.
An eyewitness told Magharebia that more than 50 revolutionaries were wounded and transferred to hospitals. Displaced residents from the area said they had no water or electricity and food and medicine were in short supply.
NTC forces also advanced from the southeast, heading in the direction of the industrial section of Bani Walid. The third front in the fight for Bani Walid was to the north, where revolutionaries were fortifying their position around the Dinar checkpoint. Revolutionary shells and machine guns were pounding Kadhafi strongholds, which responded only with sniper fire.
Ayman Mohammed, a field commander with the Az-Zawiya revolutionaries, said that fighters planned a large scale attack from three sides in an effort to raise the independence flag and complete the liberation.
“We’ve risen up to make everything free without any restrictions and without any influence on others’ lives and habits,” said Salem Abdul Hafidh, a young revolutionary from Az-Zawiya.
Meanwhile, a revolutionary from Tripoli was nearby placing rockets dubbed “zenga zenga”, which were fired in the past from helicopters. “We took that name, i.e. ‘zenga, zenga’, from the famous Kadhafi’s speech in which he said ‘zenga, zenga, house to house, inch to inch’,” the revolutionary said.
“We’re repaying him back with these rockets because we’ve now become united and Libya has become one tribe,” the fighter told Magharebia. Nearby, a revolutionary from the city of al-Khoms opened fire on Bani Walid from his vehicle equipped with a 106mm cannon. The snipers quickly returned fire.
The fight for Bani Walid came as NTC forces cleared Kadhafi loyalists from several key positions inside the city of Sirte. NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil visited fighters along the frontline in Sirte on Tuesday (October 11th), including the former Kadhafi stronghold at the Ouagadougou conference centre.
Plumes of smoke could be seen rising along the Sirte skyline in recent days. Artillery bombardment with tanks, heavy weapons and mortars were seen on the western and eastern fronts, which showed careful co-ordination on the part of the revolutionaries.
“We’re retired soldiers, but we have a duty to fight now for the protection, independence and liberation of Libya,” said one soldier who came from Tripoli. “As you can see, we’re using heavy weapons and they are responding with sniper fire. Therefore, I think that the liberation of Sirte will happen soon.”
As the fight for Sirte and Bani Walid continued, ousted Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi issued a poor-quality audio recording aired by the Syrian al-Rai channel in which he called on Libyans to “be brave and rise up”.
But Libyans had sharp words for the deposed dictator. “Kadhafi is hallucinating,” said Akram, a young revolutionary. “He thinks that millions of people are still with him in a joke which he believes and which in itself is a farce.”
“Why doesn’t he appear in public and with his face?” wondered Abdul Basset Youssef from the Tripoli revolutionaries. “I think he’s suffering from a psychological crisis, especially as the audio recording was of poor quality.”
“He has disappeared from the political scene in Libya and the entire world, and his words don’t represent anything,” he added.