Revenge Attacks Loom as Misrata Fighters Conquer Bani Walid

Families Continue to Flee as Pro-Govt Fighters Say Town Is 'Finished'

Today Bani Walid is finished.”

That was the message of Misrata militia members marching through the streets of the Libyan town, having conquered it in a multi-day siege. They know a thing or two about “finished” towns, too, as this is the same militia that totally depopulated the town of Tawergha, now a smouldering collection of ruins with a sign that says “New Misrata” at the center.

In the year since the end of the Libyan civil war that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, Bani Walid has been attacked several times, with each group claiming the town is a “Gadhafi remnant.” The town still flies the flag of Gadhafi-era Libya, but that seems to be more about resentment toward the new regime’s constant attacks than anything else.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the town already, with more continuing to pour out amid fear of a new round of revenge attacks from the notorious militia that is now the government-endorsed occupying power.

Revenge attacks are nothing new in “post-war” Libya, where city to city fighting is almost constantly going on somewhere in the country. The militia has thousands of people they are planning to arrest as “regime loyalists,” and since this usually means disappearing into militia-run prisons with no access to court systems, everyone is just fleeing rather than discovering if they are on the list or not.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.