Fighting resumes in Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid

AFP , Sunday 16 Oct 2011

National Transitional Council forces launch a fresh assault on the estimated 1,500 pro-Gaddafi fighters holed up in Bani Walid

Fighters of Libya's new regime said on Sunday they have launched a fresh assault on Bani Walid, one of the last holdouts of Muammar Gaddafi diehards, after they were driven back last week.

"We have resumed combat operations and we have advanced from the northern front as well as from the south," said Musa Yunis, who heads the National Transitional Council (NTC) forces in Bani Walid, a desert oasis town some 170 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Tripoli.

NTC fighters have surrounded the town but their commanders pulled them back last week after suffering heavy losses and to prepare for a new offensive against the 1,500 pro-Gaddafi fighters thought to remain there.

A commander from the city of Zawiyah, whose forces are based south of Bani Walid, said his fighters had launched a barrage of artillery fire against the positions of the Gaddafi loyalists.

Last Sunday, the disparate forces of the new regime paid a heavy price for their lack of coordination, having to abandon control of the airport and suffering heavy casualties with 17 of their men killed and more than 80 wounded.

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