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“The fighting will be very bad,” said Fadila Salim as she drove out of Bani Walid. Her husband, Mohammed Ibrahim, said that there is no electricity and no water and that shops are running out of food. He said that many were “stuck in their houses and afraid to leave.”

Khairiyah al-Mahdi, a 40-year-old housewife, was fleeing the town along with her husband, six daughters and two sons.

She said her house was among the first to fly the revolution’s tricolor flag when Libyan fighters pushed into Bani Walid over the weekend. But deteriorating living conditions, threats from Gadhafi supporters and heavy clashes in the town prompted her family to flee.

“We left Bani Walid because Gadhafi loyalists in control of the local radio announced through airwaves that anyone helping the rebels or part of them will be killed,” she said. “A lot of people are scared and now leaving.”

The main battle front in Bani Walid is now a bridge that links the town with the port city of Misrata to the northwest. Gadhafi loyalists have covered the pavement with oil slicks and fuel spills to hinder vehicles trying to cross into the city center.

A rebel commander, Abu Ouejeila al-Hbeishi, said Gadhafi snipers have taken up positions on roof tops, including on a hotel, an ancient castle and an administrative building in the town center. Loyalist forces also fired Grad rockets and mortars at revolutionary fighters on the northern edge of Bani Walid, where, Mr. al-Hawaishi said, some 2,000 former rebels have gathered.

NATO, which has played a key role in crippling Col. Gadhafi’s military forces since intervening in Libya’s civil war in late March, has kept up its attacks on remaining pro-Gadhafi sites. The military alliance said its warplanes hit targets Sunday in Col. Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, including a military logistics facility and three surface-to-air missile systems.

The Misrata Military Council said clashes inside Sirte between Gadhafi loyalists and opposition backers has left at least three people dead.

Hadeel al-Shalchi reported from Wadi Dinar, Libya.