Residents of the city of Bani Walid have been surrounded the past week by government forces. The siege is part of an attempt to arrest those responsible for killing the man who is credited with capturing Gadaffi.
Bani Walid residents are suffering from lack of food, drugs, and other supplies. The residents are calling on the UN for help. Amnesty International has asked Libyan authorities to avoid force if possible and also to allow medical supplies and other vital supplies into the city. On October 4th, local doctors claim that a group of armed men stopped three vehicles carrying medical supplies, personnel, and oxygen from entering Bani Walid. The armed group had set up a checkpoint about 80 kilometers from the city.
Libya's ruling General National Congress approved the use of force to arrest those suspected of killing Omran Shaaban, who is credited with capturing Gadaffi. Dr. Abdul-hamid Alshandoli, a member of Bani Walid's social council said:“Right now, the armed forces are attacking our city at the eastern boundary between us and Misrata city,." The government called for some prisoners held in the city to be handed over to the government. The ten day deadline to do so has passed with no action as yet.
The chief of staff of the Libyan army called on residents to hand over the requested individuals or face a military assault. Amnesty International has reported that hundreds of Bani Walid residents have already been arrested by armed militias. The organization complains that those arrested continue to be detained without any charges being laid. Amnesty also claims that many have been tortured and otherwise ill treated.
In spite of army threats, large numbers of Bani Walid residents have turned out in the city to protest the army demands. Alshandoli said:“Many armed groups came to main entrance of Bani Walid and they asked the people to get out of the city. We have decided not to go because we want to defend our rights, our homes, and our families."
Bani Walid was one of the last cities to fall under the control of anti-Gaddafi forces last year.
The city has been at odds with the new government for some time and its residents have also often been arrested and detained in poor conditiions for being Gadaffi loyalists. There is almost no chance that the UN or any western countries will intervene to try to negotiate a peaceful end to the standoff.
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