He told AFP the attack was launched by “a group of remnants of the old regime,” calling for outside help against a feared “massacre.”
“There are around 100 and 150 men armed with heavy weapons who are attacking. We have asked for the army to intervene, but the defence ministry and NTC (National Transitional Council) have let us down,” he said.
“We’re out of the frying pan into the fire. We’ve been warning about this for the past two months,” he said.
Another local official, M’barek al-Fotmani, said the assailants had circled the base of former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi last year.
“The compound of thuwar is surrounded on all sides by loyalists of Gaddafi who are attacking it with all kinds of weapons,” said Fotmani, a former NTC member for Bani Walid, 170 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Tripoli.
“The attackers are carrying green flags,” symbol of the Gaddafi regime, he said from inside the base.
Fotmani said the base belonged to the May 28 Brigade, a unit of former rebels attached to the defence ministry.
Bani Walid was one of the last pro-Gaddafi bastions to fall in the bloody uprising against the dictator’s rule.
The capture of Bani Walid was followed by the fall of the longtime strongman’s hometown Sirte in a battle which also led to his killing and marked the “liberation” of Libya.