Libya Government Fighters Advance on Gadhafi Stronghold of Bani Walid

Military commander Omar Salem tells Libya news website troops cross into Bani Walid residential areas, one of two main strongholds of Libya's former leader.

Troops loyal to Libya's transitional government said on Saturday they were advancing on Bani Walid, a day after clashes with forces loyal to deposed leader Muammar Gadhafi left nine people killed in the area.

Troops had crossed through residential areas, and snipers were the only obstacle to further advance, military commander Omar Salem told the Benghazi-based Quryna news website.


Salem said he expected his troops would take the town in two days.

Bani Walid, located 400 kilometers south-east of Tripoli, is one of two main strongholds for Gadhafi's forces, along with the fugitive leader's hometown Sirte, where a few loyalists are still holding out.

For around a week, commanders have been saying that "victory is on the horizon."

Previous bids to capture Bani Walid have failed because of the stiff resistance from an estimated 1,000 Gadhafi loyalists who are believed to be in position in the mountains around the town.