Four Killed Following Clashes in Stronghold of Libya’s Gadhafi

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 7:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Provisional government fighters in Libya have entered a stronghold for Moammar Gadhafi's loyalists ahead of a deadline for them to surrender.

The fighters say street battles with loyalists erupted in the desert town of Bani Walid on Friday. The National Transitional Council forces pushed into the city after loyalists fired a barrage of rockets at them. The forces say one NTC fighter and at least three Gadhafi fighters have been killed.

Earlier this week, provisional authorities gave Mr. Gadhafi's loyalists until Saturday to surrender from their few remaining strongholds. The NTC said it wanted to avoid military action that could harm civilians.

Meanwhile, NATO said Friday that it had carried out air strikes near Bani Walid that destroyed two Scud missiles that were part of Mr. Gadhafi's arsenal.

Skirmishes between loyalist and provisional fighters also took place Friday in Mr. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

Also Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama formally accepted the credential of the new Libyan ambassador to the United States.

Ali Aujali had once been the envoy for the Gadhafi government, but he broke with the regime, switched sides and was named as the first envoy to the U.S. of the provisional government.

Separately, diplomatic efforts are underway to help the NTC restore public security and establish the framework for building a new government. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the establishment of a U.N. mission in Libya in a letter circulated on Friday.

In his letter, he stated the mission would operate for an initial three-month period if the plan is approved by the U.N. Security Council.

In another development, a senior general and other officials who were part of Mr. Gadhafi's government crossed into Niger.

News organizations quote officials in Niger who say General Ali Kana and several other high-ranking officials were part of a group of about one dozen people who entered the country on Friday.

Kana was in charge of Mr. Gadhafi's troops in southern Libya. He is a Tuareg, the dominant tribe in northern Niger.

On Wednesday, Niger's justice minister said 18 people had entered the country from Libya in recent days, but that Mr. Gadhafi was not among them.

The NTC sent envoys to Niger in an effort to prevent the fugitive former leader and his associates from leaving Libya.

Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libya's former intelligence chief .

The international police agency said Friday that it issued a “red notice” calling on all countries to help locate the three men and place them under arrest. Their current whereabouts are unknown.