- The speaker alleged to be Gadhafi tells Libyans to be brave and protest
- Gadhafi loyalists were driven from the hills in Bani Walid
- Fighting has raged for weeks for control of Bani Walid and Sirte
A message purportedly from deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday slammed the legitimacy of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council and urged Libyans to take to the streets to protest.
"I tell them not to be scared from anyone," said the audio message, aired on Syrian-based Al-Rai television. "You are protesting peacefully in front of the world. Be brave and go out in the streets.
Of the transitional council, the speaker said, "Where did it get this official representation from? Did the Libyans elect it?"
Gadhafi has not been seen in public in months and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Meanwhile, revolutionary fighters still battling to remove the last bastions of Gadhafi's forces were able to wrest control of strategic posts in the hills of Bani Walid.
The hills lie on the northern front of the fighting in Bani Walid and were infested with snipers, said Abdulla Kenshill, a National Transitional Council spokesman in the city.
The council's fighters were also able to confiscate much of the heavy weaponry used by the Gadhafi loyalists.
Kenshill said two of the council's fighters were killed in a rocket attack Wednesday night.
Bani Walid radio was still broadcasting pro-Gadhafi messages from homes inside the city, Kenshill said. However, Libya Al Hurra radio, which supports the revolutionaries, was also on the air from Bani Walid, which is about 170 kilometers (105 miles) southeast of Tripoli.
Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi is believed to be hiding out in Bani Walid. That city and Sirte, the coastal birthplace of Gadhafi, remain contested even as the National Transitional Council moves forward to form new governance in Libya.
Libya's new leadership plans to declare "liberation" if and when Sirte falls. But Gadhafi's men have put up stiff resistance and the fighting has gone on there, as well as in Bani Walid, for weeks. The transitional council's leader and the interim prime minister have promised to step down once Sirte is taken to clear the way for a new government.
Moammar Gadhafi and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, are wanted for alleged crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.