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Fighting Erupts Around Qaddafi's Hometown Of Sirte

Fighters from Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) take cover on the front line in the key Red Valley on the road to Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte on September 9.
Libya's interim government fighters have clashed with Muammar Qaddafi's loyalists outside the ousted leader's hometown of Sirte and entered the other main Qaddafi stronghold, Bani Walid.

A spokesman for the interim government forces, Ahmed Bani, said Qaddafi's fighters in Sirte responded by firing Grad missiles amid ongoing battles.

Meanwhile, fighters sent by Libya's new rulers entered the desert town of Bani Walid, some 150 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, where they were fighting a loyalist force of some 600 fighters.

A National Transition Council (NTC) official, Abdallah Kanshil, said anti-Qaddafi forces were in the north and the east of Bani Walid, fighting snipers.

The two towns and the desert city of Sabha are among the last places still outside of the control of the NTC, which drove Gaddafi from power last month.

The NTC had given Bani Walid and Sirte until September 10 to give up peacefully or face attack.

Interpol meanwhile issued a "red notice" for the arrest of Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants in June for all three for alleged crimes against humanity.

In an audio message to a Syria-based TV channel on September 8, Qaddafi dismissed reports he had fled to neighboring Niger as "lies."

compiled from agency reports