Civilians fleeing Bani Walid and Sirte say the two Libyan cities fighting off the revolutionary forces are turning into a trap. The eyewitnesses told of no food, no medical aid – and no care for civilians.
Sirte is under random bombardment by the NTC forces, a woman who asked that she be identified as Selma told RT. Just a day ago, Selma fled from Bani Walid, one of the last pro-Gaddafi strongholds fighting off the attacks of the revolutionary forces. She says a mere declaration of loyalty to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi could cost your life there.
“Two guys from the rebels attacked the home of a colonel,” Selma told RT by phone from the capital Tripoli. “A man – he is a colonel – he worked with the Libyan forces. They attacked his house and they killed the man in front of his sons’ eyes, just because he supported Colonel Gaddafi. Any house that has [Gaddafi’s] green flag – they just bomb it.”
“There’s tragedy in Bani Walid: the people are suffering, there is no food, there is no water,” she added. “In Sirte, there is another tragedy as well. They actually attack the city randomly. They say, ‘We cannot enter Sirte, because there are civilians and we don’t want to attack civilians.’ It is not true, they are attacking, bombing civilians randomly. They don’t care, all they care about is that Sirte is ‘liberated.’”
Another eyewitness from Bani Walid, who asked to be identified only as Ransi, escaped to Tripoli three days ago. The man says NATO has been bombing the city indiscriminately.
“It is very dangerous,” Ransi said by phone. “NATO won’t stop bombing the area. At the beginning, they were bombing only the military [targets], but now they are not choosing between the military and civilians. People are suffering from food and water [shortages]… When I was leaving, water started to come back, but the food was still missing. There are too many people who have been killed. They don’t care about civilians.”
Meanwhile, another Gaddafi stronghold, the deposed ruler’s hometown of Sirte, has come under resumed fire by the National Transitional Council’s forces. The two-day lull in fighting agreed by the belligerents was meant to give civilians time to leave the besieged city.
Hundreds of civilians have managed to leave the place, dubbed as being a humanitarian disaster zone, but reports suggest that thousands remain inside, too scared to leave their homes.
"There is no food, no water, no power. Some are trapped because there is no fuel, others are trapped because of the militias," an eyewitness told Reuters. "The people who are trapped inside are in danger. There is random shelling everywhere."
The Red Cross mission was forced to leave Gaddafi’s hometown together with the fleeing refugees after less than 48 hours inside. A new Red Cross convoy that tried to deliver aid supplies to Sirte on Monday had to turn back due to the NTC forces resuming fire.
Anti-Gaddafi forces have pulled in more artillery in an attempt to break the stubborn resistance of their opponents occupying the city, where, the rebels believe, Gaddafi’s son Mutassim is hiding.
In their Monday advance, the NTC troops advanced on the Sirte district of Bouhadi. This stronghold of Gaddafi's tribe, where many residents reject the new government, met the troops with empty houses and all-too-many Gaddafi green flags flying from most of the buildings. Reuters’ correspondent on the scene says a number NTC fighters could not but help themselves to some of the abandoned possessions.
Author and journalist Afshin Rattansi told RT that the current picture in Libya is disturbing, as the talk there is not about the future of the country and its people, but about oil.
“I think some people already have their eyes on the bigger prize,” he said. “Of course, Libya’s oil – and certainly Jalil and Jibril, these two people on the Transitional Council are already saying that they intend to move on, both of them big advocates for privatization – that really is what it seems to be about. What is important here is the oil, and where the oil contracts go.”