Sunday, September 11, 2011

Infighting Between Counter-revolutionary Rebels in Libya Kills 12

Reports: Infighting Between Libyan Rebels Kills 12

11/09/2011 17:58:00
Tripoli Post

Despite the plea by the chief of the National Transitional Council for different factions among the anti-Al Qathafi fighters to retrain themselves in dealing with each other, at least 12 people were reportedly killed and others wounded when two groups of fighters opposed from the same side, opposed to the fugitive leader, turned on each other in Libya’s west.

According to reports on Al Arabiya officials said on Sunday that the fighting that broke out on Saturday, that presumably has its roots in ancient rivalries, pitted combatants from the towns of Gharyan and Kikla on the one side and from Asabah on the other.

The report quotes the chief of the Gharyan council as confirming the fighting. It also said it had confirmation from head of the military council of Asabah.

The towns are on the eastern edge of the Nafusa mountains and were important centres of resistance to oust Al Qathafi from power. It is rivalry that many could have predicted, but that hopefully will be subdued.

Abdul Jalil and the interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril had said that the NTC “has mapped out a path and we hope that Libyans understand that we have to move along this path fast and that it is no time for revenge.”

He added: “We should put all our forces together to liberate the remaining Libyan cities of Bani Walid, Sabha and Sirte.”

Meanwhile, the NTC fighters reportedly fought their way Sunday to the gates of the oasis town of Bani Walid and were closing in on Sirte, poised for all-out assaults on the Libyan deposed leader’s remaining strongholds.

On Saturday during a visit to Tripoli, Interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil gave the green light for attacks on the southeast town of Bani Walid, on Sirte to the east and Sabha in the deep south after declaring the deadline for pro-Al Qathafi loyalists to surrender was over.

By late morning Sunday, streams of fighters backed by armoured vehicles had massed on the edge of Bani Walid, and NTC fighters, and as they pushed towards the oasis said they had routed Al Qathafi loyalists and snipers from Wadidinar, a valley in the shadow of Bani Walid.

They were in fact hoping to complete their entry into Bani Walid.

NATO warplanes in the meantime struck several targets in areas still loyal to the fugitive leader. On Sunday NATO said that the day before, its warplanes hit a tank, two armed vehicles and one multiple rocket launcher near Bani Walid. Airstrikes also targeted the areas around Al Qathafi's hometown of Sirte, and the towns of Waddan and Sabha in the south.

The NTC chief, Mustafa Abdul Abdel Jalil said: “Now the situation is in the hands of our revolutionary fighters,” effectively giving commanders authority to attack Bani Walid, Sirte, Sabha and other pro-Al Qathafi areas.

The battle for Bani Walid already got off to a fitful and unscheduled start on Friday night, but NTC fighters withdrew on Saturday, apparently in anticipation of NATO air strikes, and with Abdullah Kanshil, who tried but failed to negotiate the town's surrender, saying that NTC fighters withdrew “for tactical reasons that could be linked to military operations that NATO might be planning.”

Four NTC fighters were reportedly killed and 26 injured in clashes around Bani Walid on Saturday.

A number of former regime officials, including Qaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, are believed to be holed up in Bani Walid. The whereabouts of Qaddafi himself is unknown.
Moving to Tripoli

Many NTC members, including half of the executive committee, moved to Tripoli after it fell late last month but Abdel Jalil and his deputy Mahmud Jibril were slow to arrive in the capital.

One hopes the NTC tackles the tensions surfacing in some areas already controlled by the rebel fighters. It needs to stamp its authority and not leave anybody take the reins.

Radwan who has been following the conflict and helping out as best he could, said the NTC needs to show that it won't allow anarchy and examples of infighting, or actions such as the one reported in Misurata where anti-Al Qathafi fighters are said to have challenged NTC authority, refusing to turn over abandoned tanks as requested by interim leaders. Such, Radwan said should not be tolerated.

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