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Army pushes into Bani Walid as Libya marks anniversary

Gaia Anderson / AP

Libyans celebrate one year since the country declared liberation from former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, at Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 23, 2012.

Gaia Anderson / AP

Libyans celebrate one year since the country declared liberation from former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, at Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 23.

Reuters reports — The Libyan army and allied militias have seized control of strategic buildings in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, a military spokesman said on Tuesday, as Libya marked the first anniversary of its "liberation" from Muammar Gaddafi.

Thousands have fled the violence in the isolated hilltop town, which was one of the last to surrender to rebels last year, and has been at the center of a bloody standoff this month between rival militias whose ferocity has underscored the extent of instability in the North African country.

Slideshow: The uprising against Gadhafi

Colonel Ali al-Shekhili said the army, which was backed by a group of militias known as "Libya's Shield" who are loyal to the defense ministry, had pushed into the center of Bani Walid some 170 km (105 miles) south of Tripoli. Full story…

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Gaia Anderson / AP

Libyans celebrate one year since the country declared liberation from former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, at Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 23.

EPA

Libyan government fighters prepare ammunition before an advance towards the entrance to the town of Bani Walid, Libya, Oct. 23. Bani Walid is witnessing clashes between the army and some loyalists of the former Gaddafi regime. The Libyan army has seized most of the south-eastern town of Bani Walid, where it is pursuing a campaign against rogue militias, according to media reports from Oct. 22. The Libyan army launched a massive-scale attack on Bani Walid on Oct. 20 after a siege of more than two weeks.

EPA

Libyan government fighters advance towards the town of Bani Walid, Libya, Oct. 23.