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Shelling in former Gaddafi stronghold demonstrates instability

Libya's leadership has struggled to impose their authority in a well-armed country. Opposing militias have been shelling Bani Walid, a former Gaddafi stronghold.

By Ali ShuaibReuters / October 21, 2012

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (front r.) and her Irish counterpart Michael D. Higgins shake hands at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, October 11.

Martin Acosta/Reuters



Libyan militiamen aligned to the Defence Ministry shelled the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid on Sunday, extending a feud between two towns that demonstrates the country's deep divisions a year after the veteran leader was killed.

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Militias, many of whom are from Misrata, have been shelling the hilltop town of 70,000 people for several days. Libyan state news agency LANA said late on Saturday 14 people had been killed and 200 injured in the fighting.

Libya's new rulers have led the nation to elections but have struggled to impose their authority on a country awash with weapons. Underscoring the chaos and confusion were conflicting reports over the fate of Gaddafi's former spokesman and his son.

While Misrata spent weeks under siege by Gaddafi forces in last year's war, Bani Walid was one of the towns that remained loyal to Gaddafi longest. It remains isolated from the rest of Libya and former rebels say it still harbours pockets of support for the old government.

"The attacks are continuing," Bani Walid militia leader Abdelkarim Ghomaid said by phone. "The shelling is coming from all sides."

He said Bani Walid fighters had captured 16 cars belonging to militias from Misrata. This could not be immediately independently verified.

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