BANI WALID (AFP) – New regime forces were in full control of the desert oasis of Bani Walid on Monday after they finally overcame resistance by Muammar Gaddafi loyalists after a six-week siege, a commander said.
“The city of Bani Walid has been completely liberated,” said Saif al-Lasi, a commander of the Zliten Brigade, one of the National Transitional Council units which took part in the final assault launched on Sunday.
“The road is now open east towards Sirte, south to Sabha and west to Tripoli,” he told AFP.
TV station mourns death of Gaddafi’s son Khamis in Libya
A television station based in Syria that supports Muammar Gaddafi confirmed on Monday that the deposed Libyan leader’s son Khamis had died in fighting southeast of the capital Tripoli on Aug. 29.
Khamis commanded an elite military brigade and his death marked the highest-profile pro-Gaddafi casualty since the uprising began that ended Gaddafi’s 42 years in power.
Arrai television announced Khamis’s death, along with that of his cousin Mohammed Abdullah al-Senussi, son of Gaddafi’s wanted intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi , saying they were killed during a battle with National Transitional Council (NTC) forces in the city of Tarhouna, 90 km southeast of Tripoli.
The TV station, which has broadcast audio messages from Gaddafi and his spokesman since the Libyan capital was overrun by NTC forces in August, posted pictures of Khamis and Senussi and broadcast verses of the Koran, the traditional way of mourning.
It said Khamis and Senussi died “while confronting the enemies of their homeland” on Aug. 29.
NTC military officials had said in August that Khamis was killed in Tarhouna and buried in the city of Bani Walid but there was no confirmation at the time from Gaddafi loyalists.
Khamis had been reported dead twice before during the uprising, only to reappear.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the U.S. could not yet independently confirm Khamis’s death but said similar information was being received in Washington from “reliable sources.” (Reuters/NAN)