NEAR BANI WALID , Libya — A pro-Muammar Gaddafi radio station Sunday afternoon broadcast a call to arms to residents against fighters backing Libya’s new rulers massed outside the oasis town of Bani Walid, an AFP correspondent said.
‘Go out on the streets to protect Warfalla, they are coming to kill us,’ the radio broadcast repeated over and over, referring to the main tribe in the area.
‘They want to spread corruption and destruction everywhere. Go today, today, today — now you are armed there is no excuse. This is the time for jihad (holy warfare).’
Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli, Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte to the east and Sabha in the deep south are the remaining holdouts of forces loyal to Gaddafi, who went into hiding when rebel fighters overran Tripoli last month.
Libya’s interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Saturday gave the green light to his forces to attack the three towns after declaring the deadline for pro-Gaddafi enclaves to surrender over.
Skirmishes erupted at Bani Walid on Sunday afternoon even as the radio was broadcasting its appeal in which at least two former rebel fighters were killed and 12 wounded, according to paramedics.
Commanders said they were still awaiting final orders to storm the town.
Meanwhile, around 200 pickup trucks with mounted light artillery gathered before dawn Sunday in the desert and began moving south towards Sirte, cutting through a string of villages where they met no resistance.