20 November 2012

Libya: Bani Walid Returns to Normal

Tripoli — Security improvements in Bani Walid reassure citizens that it is now safe to resume their normal activities.

Less than one month ago, the Libyan desert town of Bani Wali looked like a war zone. It is now coming back to life.

"Every day is better than the previous one and steadily improving. The security committee controls all the intersections of the city, which is protected by the national army and the security forces," Local Governance Minister Mohamed al-Hrari told Deutsche Welle.

Troops loyal to the Libyan government captured the flashpoint city on October 24th. Hundreds of loyalist fighters reportedly entered the town and hoisted the national flag atop abandoned buildings.

In the month since then, several grocery stores have opened, as well as fruit and vegetable markets. Cars circulate in the streets.

Some 500 homes were burned in the city during recent clashes between Libyan government-controlled forces and former Kadhafi loyalists.

"We have tasked a committee drawn from four engineering offices to fully survey damaged homes and dwellings in the city. Victims will have their rents covered for three months," Dr.al-Hrari said.

The army is in control of the city and the population is now less worried, according to Mouin Chernam, Director of the Political Section of the United Nations Mission in Libya. He also noted that displaced people were returning to schools and hospitals were becoming fully functional.

"Schools will have their missing chairs and blackboards replaced. They will even receive soccer balls for physical education," al-Hrari added.

The hospital was also outfitted with new equipment, drugs and two ambulances, and should resume full activity this week, he said.

Security forces will continue to protect the city and its vital locations.

"This force is made up of an estimated 500 members from the Ministry of Interior as well as a large force from the national army," explained Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Hussein Abu Hajar, the head of the security force in charge of Bani Walid.

"The situation is improving gradually. There have been no security breaches in the past 72 hours and citizens are responsive to us. With the reactivation of the police and judicial services, things will quickly improve," Colonel Mohammed Jeraa said.

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