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Libyan rebels fight into Gaddafi's stronghold of Bani Walid one day ahead of deadline


12:43, September 10, 2011

BENGHAZI, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Libya's rebel forces entered one of Muammar Gaddafi's holdout town of Bani Walid on Friday, one day ahead of the Sept. 10-deadline the rebels set for Gaddafi loyalists to surrender, al-Jazeera TV said.

The anti-Gaddafi forces entered the town after heavy fightings with Gaddafi's loyalists and the crump of shelling was heard inside the town, said a Xinhua correspondent.

Earlier, the rebel fighters were reportedly entering Bani Walid from the north, east and south and had been just 2 km (1.5 miles) from the town center.

The battle broke out one day earlier before the deadline set by the rebels for the Gaddafi forces in the town to surrender. According to earlier reports, the rebel forces had been nearing a deal with the Gaddafi loyalists in the town for a peaceful handover of the town.

Al Jazeera reported Tuesday that Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) had reached an agreement with local tribal leaders to enter the town, but the information has not yet been confirmed by the NTC.

Bani Walid, along with Sirte on the Mediterranean coast and Sabha deep in the Sahara desert, are Gaddafi's last pockets of support. The former ruler of Libya is sill on the run, and his whereabouts still remains unknown.


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