Bani Walid is one of Muammar Gaddafi's last bastions of support in Libya and the city is proving difficult to conquer for the Libyan revolutionary forces.
Hopes of a peaceful takeover floundered after negotiators failed to work out a deal for Gaddafi loyalists to surrender the city.
Instead, fighting has intensified and the rebel fighters are being faced with fierce resistance from forces loyal to Gaddafi. This has cast doubt over claims that Bani Walid will be in rebel control within 48 hours.
But why is there such strong resistance from pro-Gaddfi forces even after the fall of Tripoli? And what has made this town so central to the conflict?
Inside Story, with presenter Divya Gopalan, discusses with guests: Faraj Najem, a historian and the author of Tribes, Islam and State in Libya; Noman Benotman, a senior analyst for de-radicalisation at Quilliam Foundation and the former head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which he left in 2002; and Mohammed Ali Abdallah, the deputy secretary-general of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.