Latest News: The war is not yet over for Libya’s new rulers in the desert town of Bani Walid where Gaddafi loyalists vow to fight on for their fallen leader and other residents are angry over violence and looting.
Enraged by what they see as acts of retribution by forces loyal to Libya’s new government, tribesmen say their men are already trying to regroup into a new insurgency movement in and around the strategic desert town south of the capital, Tripoli.
But Libya’s interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), is aware that support from disenchanted, armed civilians could bolster a tiny but lingering Gaddafi force in the desert and some towns.
And to nip any further insurgency in the bud, it now needs to win people’s hearts and minds — a formidable task in a war-shattered town like Bani Walid.
Bani Walid is of particular importance because it is the spiritual homebase to Libya’s biggest tribe, the powerful Warfalla, which includes up to one million of Libya’s 6 million population, with tribesmen scattered across the country.
The town is awash with guns and some neighborhoods still flaunt pro-Gaddafi graffiti. Shootouts between government forces and Gaddafi loyalists occur daily on the edge of Bani Walid.
Government forces present in the city said they were aware of the problem but believed that with Gaddafi now dead, hostilities would soon fizzle out in the absence of a clear goal and before developing into a formidable insurgent force.
Fighters said loyalists were using dried-up riverbeds to launch night-time attacks on their positions — a tactic that highlights the loyalists’ resolve to fight on.
Tucked away in desert hills 150 km (90 miles) south of Tripoli, Bani Walid fell to NTC forces on October 17 — three days before Gaddafi’s death marked the end of the eight-month war.