After being bombarded by Grad rockets, the town of Bani Walid has now been largely occupied by militiamen (including the some of the same Misrata militiamen responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Tawergha, the slaughter of prisoners in Sirte and other war crimes.)
It seems likely that the town of Bani Walid may now receive the Tawergha treatment – with its houses and facilities systematically destroyed, its wealth looted and its citizens being slaughtered or forced to flee. This time even pro-intervention Human Rights Watch warn the inhabitants are in danger.
This video (just uploaded to YouTube) corroborates media reports which indicate that many of the people of Bani Walid are now stuck in the desert outside the town:
The situation has been brewing for a while with an ongoing feud between the Warfalla tribe and the Misratans and the death in France of Omran Shaban (ascribed a role in the capture of Gaddafi) and the ongoing detention of many Warfalla in Misrata. The conflict has to be seen in the context of Libya approaching failed state status, and marks an attempt (approved by NATO/US) by the Libyan ‘authorities’ to demonstrate they can enforce their mandate over the country with a show of force.
As RT reports:
The United States has blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in the Libyan town of Bani Walid, which has been under siege for weeks. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said the move “can’t be serious,” reminding the American delegation of the deadly attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four US diplomats in September.
“Blocking a draft statement that called to solve the country’s political problems without violence is very strange,” Churkin said. “This is a case when it is difficult to explain the US delegation’s actions in rational terms.”
The statement drafted by Russia on Bani Walid called on the Libyan authorities “to take urgent steps to resolve the conflict by peaceful means and to preserve the rights of all Libyan citizens.” It also expressed concern about the significant escalation of violence in and around the city of Bani Walid in recent days.[END OF RT REPORT]
Reports suggested that the Misrata militiamen, deputised as ‘pro-government forces’, had captured the town, made some arrests and withdrew to allow the townsfolk, many of whom had fled in the preceding days, to return. Indeed the refugees were informed by the Libyan ‘authorities’ and television they could return safely to celebrate Eid-Al-Adha which falls on Friday. When they reached the town’s outskirts, however, their route was blocked and, as tempers flared, they had shots fired over their heads by the nervy militia.
The Libyan authorities may have lost any semblance of control they believed they had over the Misrata militia and now they (and the US) face a potential PR disaster as a gruesome massacre and destruction unfold. There is something of a deafening silence from the media, although we do find outlets such as the Guardian characterising the events as “Mummar Gaddafi loyalists hold out in last stand at Bani Walid.”
RT have an appraisal of the situation and discussion of the double-standards shown by the Western powers:
Human RIghts Investigations calls for:
1) The immediate withdrawal of militia from the town of Bani Walid.
2) The 70-80,000 people of Bani Walid should be allowed to return to their homes.
3) An investigation into possible war crimes committed during the siege and taking of Bani Walid.