Fighting flares for 5th day in Libyan town
The men fired in the air several times to disperse the crowd, who responded with defiance, waving Libyan revolutionary flags and bearing their chests in front of the militiamen. Women made up around half of the crowd.
‘‘In Bani Walid no one supports Gadhafi,’’ said a veiled woman who identified herself only as Um Mohammed, or mother of Mohammed. ‘‘We support this government.’’
Um Mohammed said her children and husband were in Bani Walid.
‘‘We need protection,’’ she said, expressing her fears that the pro-government militias would take their revenge on the city and destroy it like they have others.
The militiamen were unsympathetic and at times prevented the protesters from talking to journalists and started hauling people out of the crowd, detaining them and beating them near their trucks.
‘‘These people here say they want their freedom, but we gave them a lot of chances to change their mind,’’ said one militiaman. ‘‘A lot of Gadhafi people are hiding there and people from Bani Walid have killed a lot of people form Souq al-Jumaa.’’
The standoff ended when 12 army trucks pulled up filled with men wearing new camouflage uniforms who fired into the air with anti-aircraft guns, sending everyone to the ground.
The trucks then drove into the parliament compound and used similar methods to disperse the people inside. Journalists were also stopped from photographing.
Schemm reported from Tripoli, Libya.