Troops shell besieged Libyan town

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iol pic afr bani walid AFP File photo - Destroyed veichles littler the street follwoing earlier fighting in the oasis town of Bani Walid, on January 25, 2012.

Cairo -

At least three people were killed when Libyan troops shelled a former stronghold of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, local media reported on Thursday.

The dead included an eight-year-bold boy who was killed late on Wednesday when a rocket hit his family's house in the town of Bani Walid, said the independent Libyan news agency Solidarity Press, citing a media source inside the town.

The town's hospital treated several people injured in the “indiscriminate” shelling carried out by tanks and artillery, added the source.

Libyan troops have been besieging Bani Walid, about 400 kilometres south-east of the capital Tripoli, for more than a week in an attempt to catch suspected rogue militiamen.

Bani Walid supported Gaddafi in the armed revolt that eventually overthrew his regime last year.

The National Congress, Libya's highest authority, earlier this month issued an ultimatum to Bani Walid to hand over people suspected of abducting and torturing Omran Shaaban, a man believed to have been instrumental in capturing Gaddafi in his hometown Sirte in October last year.

Shaaban was tortured and shot in the spine after being captured in July by alleged loyalists of Gaddafi in Bani Walid.

He was released two months later, and sent for medical treatment to France where he died.

Libya's new rulers have recently ordered illegal militias to be disbanded and launched a disarmament drive in an effort to re-establish security in the northern African country. - Sapa-dpa


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