About 200 people have stormed Libya’s parliament building demanding an end to the siege on Bani Walid, a former stronghold of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that continues to have pockets of resistance.
The protest in Tripoli, the country’s capital, came on Sunday as hundreds of Libyan families and foreign workers fled from Bani Walid, a day after clashes killed at least 26 people in the town.
Fighting on Saturday, the fourth consecutive day of unrest between pro-government forces and fighters described by authorities as criminals and loyalists of Gaddafi’s toppled regime, killed at least 26 people and wounded more than 200, according to an AFP tally.
On Sunday the crackle of gunfire and sporadic blasts could be heard just 3km from the main entrance of Bani Walid, testifying to the intensity of ongoing combats, the AFP news agency photographer said.
Salah al-Borki, who heads a brigade of former rebels on the western front, told AFP that his forces were advancing on the town and had seized the checkpoint leading to it.
“We are dealing with some pockets of resistance, particularly snipers posted on rooftops,” he said, adding that two of his men had been wounded.
“We are trying to create safe corridors to allow civilians to leave the city so we can have more room to manoeuvre,” said Borki, adding that his troops “have so far only used light weapons to spare the lives of civilians.”
Saturday’s fierce clashes, the latest in a series of violence in Bani Walid marked exactly one year since Qaddafi was captured and killed on October 20, 2011.