Militias Appear Taking Revenge Over Captured Bani Walid
[Tripoli Post] Hours after taking control of Bani Walid, a former stronghold of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffy
... one of those little rainstorms from the Arab Spring...
, Libyan militias from the rival city of Misrata reportedly fired ferociously at its empty public buildings amid shouts of "
holy shit! Allahu akbar (God is greatest) and "Today Bani Walid is finished."
It seems that the fighters sought to make their mark with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades on a town they say still provides a refuge to many of the tossed Libyan leader's followers, Rooters has reported, adding that the central streets were empty except for the fighters who filled them with their violent celebration.
It also quoted a Misrata fighter by the name of Ali Mahmoud saying: "The Qadaffy fighters are out of Bani Walid, they have gone. Some people here still wanted Qadaffy, we have to show them that he is finished."
The town was taken over by militias known as Libya Shield aligned with the defence ministry after days of shelling on Wednesday. It sent thousands of families fleeing from the hilltop town in scenes reminiscent of last year's civil war.
The latest fighting, in which over 20 people were killed and hundreds maimed, erupted over a government demand that Bani Walid hand over those who had kidnapped and tortured Omar Shaaban, the former rebel fighter from Misrata who had been credited of catching Qadaffy in his hometown of Sirte last year. Shaaban died in a Gay Paree hospital last month from injuries inflicted during two months of captivity in Bani Walid. He had been kidnapped in July.
Many of the 70,000 residents of Bani Walid - 170 km south of Tripoli - belong to the powerful Warfala tribe, which was mostly loyal to Qadaffy. The town and its now-displaced inhabitants, long isolated from the rest of Libya, fear retribution and wonder what fate awaits them in the post-Qadaffy era.
While the government has set up committees to tackle security, services and the return of refugees to Bani Walid, militia commanders say they will stay to keep the town "secure".
Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group said that such groups have a background and a certain vision of what Libya should be and it doesn't always necessarily match that of the elected officials at the (ruling) General National Congress, GNC. "This risks pushing back the reconciliation attempts that could have been fostered better in a peaceful manner between Bani Walid and the rest of Libya," she said.
"The other problem here is that we have a military action to free men who were arbitrarily tossed in the slammer
You have the right to remain silent...
by Bani Walid, but at the same time we have the same situation in other cities, Misrata first of all," Gazzini said, adding that she believed that the BNC has sort of followed this intense lobbying attack by the Misratans and by groups of Bani Walid revolutionaries who were kicked out of Bani Walid/
Army officials said they had freed several detainees in Bani Walid and captured some fighters who used to belong to a brigade commanded by Qadaffy's son Khamis.
Human rights groups have urged the authorities to make clear that looting, beatings and destruction will be prosecuted, with Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch
... dedicated to bitching about human rights violations around the world...
saying that the government and forces under its command should protect residents in Bani Walid and reject acts of Dire Revenge™.
...back at the pond, the radioactive tadpoles grown into frogs. Really big frogs, in fact...
Saleh Gaouda, a Benghazi congress member is reported saying that the priority of the authorities was to give Bani Walid residents the security to be able to return to their homes.
"It is important to make people inside Bani Walid believe in February 17th," he said, referring to the name given to the 2011 rebellion against Qadaffy. "This can be done through the media, talking, giving them a chance to be part of society."
Posted by: Fred