Bloomberg News

Libyan Opposition Fighters Renew Assault on Qaddafi Hometown

September 25, 2011

(Updates with mass grave in final two paragraphs.)

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Libyan opposition forces renewed their assault on the coastal city of Sirte, the hometown of Muammar Qaddafi, after announcing the creation of their first joint military union.

At least seven people were killed and 145 wounded yesterday as fighters attacked loyalist positions in and around the city, according to the military council in Misrata, which is leading the operation. Forces from the towns of Hun and Waddan moved north to join the offensive and Sirte “is now under full siege from the south,” the council said in a statement.

The joint military group, the Libyan Thwarr Union, was formed after a two-day meeting in Tripoli and includes representatives from the country’s disparate armed groups.The opposition’s National Transitional Council has been trying to consolidate its control after taking Tripoli in August. It plans to form an interim cabinet to see Libya through to elections for a new government.

The NTC’s chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said in a press conference in Benghazi aired on Al-Jazeera yesterday that an interim government may be announced as early as this week.

Officials are seeking international assistance to identify the remains of as many as 1,700 people from a recently discovered mass grave, Khaled Al Shareef, a spokesman for the Tripoli military council, told reporters in the capital.

The grave may date from the 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Shareef said. Some 13 mass graves have been found in and around Tripoli since the city fell to rebel forces last month, Ibrahim Abu Shima, a member of the 17th of February Revolutionary Committee, said after today’s announcement.

--With assistance from Digby Lidstone in Cairo. Editors: Digby Lidstone, Anthony Aarons

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Stephen in Libya at cstephen9@bloomberg.net; Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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