Libya’s Bani Walid is only a few kilometres north from where we were filming at the Bu Dinar check point.
Tensions are high on Monday and we can hear sniper fire, rockets and heavy weapons.
I take cover with my brave camera women, Alina Gracheva. When I stand, I see black smoke in the distance and heard the familiar sounds of bombardments, reminding of those I witnessed during Iraq’s multiple wars.
The fighters are very nervous – our escort, a field commander, was told off by passing fighters.
They want us to stop filming. My assumption is that they don’t want our camera to film the rockets being fired at Bani Walid.
Even more suspicious is the ‘request,’ which felt like an order, not to film heavy weapons on the side of the roads. I see heavy guns and Grad multiple rocket launchers.
I remember a telephone conversation I had with a Bani Walid resident about the day he said media and Al Jazeera had helped topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by reporting on his use of Grad rockets against his own people.
“Well now, where is the media and why no one is reporting the president of the general national congress, Mohamed el-Magariaf, who has ordered the use of rockets and force against the residents of Bani Walid.”
As we pull back 50 kilometres, we see a commander who says has had enough of his bosses. He says that they are outgunned and that the ‘enemy’ is more like an organised army.
I ask him who the ‘enemy’ is?
He answers, “Gaddafi soldiers.”
He then shows me sniper rifles, heat seeking rockets and other rockets and machine guns.
Libyan authorities say they want to establish their authority over Bani Walid and all of Libya.
Bani Walid is seen as sanctuary for Gaddafi loyalists and criminals – that’s according to the government and the speaker of parliament.
The parliament issued a law that allows the use of force to arrest wanted suspects.
They also claim that those fighters have taken the town and its people as ‘hostages.’
What is certain, though, is that the town was the last bastion of support for Col. Gaddafi. And many Libyans feel it’s not being ‘truly liberated last year.’
Of course residents of Bani Walid reject this claim and describe it as nonsense. And they blame the ‘militias of Misrata and others’ for the targeting of civilians and hatred of the Warfala tribe in Bani Walid.
The fighting will go on for few days or if not weeks. It’s been almost a month since the hilltop town has been besieged.
And there are no signs it will ‘fall’ any time soon.