Libya tensions flare ahead of election results


On Jan, 25, 2012 Libya rebels gathered at a checkpoint 60 kms from the town of Bani Walid. James Foley was captured on the front lines in Bani Walid, a center of back and forth conflict in the early days of the revolution.


Mahmud Turkia

As Libya awaits the results of its first free elections in decades this weekend, old tensions are flaring again.

Former rebels from Misrata, who have morphed into an ad hoc security force since the end of the revolution, have mobilized and traveled to Bani Walid to potentially rout the last supporters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The impending clash began when two Misratan journalists traveled to Bani Walid on July 7 to do interviews. They were kidnapped and then held ransom by residents of Bani Walid, who then demanded the former Misrata rebels release 10 imprisoned Gaddafi supporters in exchange.

The former rebels did not comply. To say the least.

Instead, they grabbed their guns, piled into trucks and made their way for Bani Walid. GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton, who is riding with them, said the rebels were prepared to launch a "full-scale" attack if necessary.

According to the Associated Press, tribal elders are now frantically trying to mediate between the two rival factions.

Bani Walid was one of the last cities to fall during the war. Many fighters there surrendered peacefully, and as a result were allowed to keep their weapons, former rebels told GlobalPost.

The amount of small arms in Libya has been a constant threat to stability and could now derail the all-important elections held last weekend if a settlement is not reached.