- Title: LIBYA: Bani Walid still reeling from siege scars
- Date: 19th October 2011
- Summary: FIGHTERS IN HOSPITAL FIGHTER WITH BANDAGE AROUND HIS HEAD SIGN READING: 'MORTUARY'
- Embargoed: 3rd November 2011 12:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Conflict
- Reuters ID: LVAB80T96VDABYOEYQRMGQLUAGB8
- Story Text: The streets of Bani Walid were quiet on Tuesday (October 18), the morning after Libyan interim ruling council fighters filled the air with gunfire in celebration of their capture of one of the final bastions of support for deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Yet the town, set in desert hills 150 km (90 miles) south of Tripoli, displayed all the signs of the weeks long siege waged by National Transitional Council (NTC) forces.
Bani Walid is home to the Warfalla, Libya's biggest tribe, whose members are traditional supporters of Gaddafi, but there were no signs of civilians returning to the streets, amid a skyline dominated by shell-ravaged buildings.
Outside the hospital, controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces until Monday (October 17), decaying bodies were piled up against a wall, while a broken refrigeration unit leaves corpses rotting in the mortuary as well.
"We found the hospital truly in a bad condition. It was chaotic and damaged. We are trying to organise everything and God willing folks are coming to get it working again," said NTC fighter Abdelsalam Alshawa at the hospital.
In a house being used as a temporary prison, about 18 men arrested by NTC fighters were held under armed guard.
"I swear to God I didn't do anything. I swear as you see and as I'm telling you know we did not see anything or do anything," pleaded one of the prisoners.
"We are people who follow the rule of God as well as humanitarian rules. If it becomes clear that you are truly only a worker, you will be released and delivered to another location," replied a guard.
The new government's forces have been accused of mistreating prisoners and Amnesty International said in a report last week it was in danger of repeating some of the abuses of Gaddafi's rule, particularly through the use of arbitrary detention.
Some of the prisoners had been wounded in the fighting but there was no evidence that they had been mistreated since their arrest.
The seizure of Bani Walid brought Libya's new rulers a step closer to being in full control of the vast, oil-producing North African country almost two months after rebels entered Tripoli and ended 42 years of one-man rule by Gaddafi.
Gaddafi's image was a common sight during his 42-year rule but now his face only adorns a donkey, pulled through the streets of the town by laughing NTC fighters.
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