LONDON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Fighting in western Libya is a troubling reminder the country has a long way to go to recover from civil war, a British foreign affairs official said.
Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the declaration by the Libyan Transitional National Council of the end to the government of Moammar Gadhafi. The Libyan leader died one year ago Saturday after falling into rebel hands following a NATO airstrike on his convoy.
British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the anniversary is a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead for post-revolutionary Libya. Since Gadhafi regime collapsed, voters for the first time in 42 years chose leaders democratically. Internal divisions, however, have sparked violence across the country for much of the past year.
"The current fighting in Bani Walid is a clear reflection of this," said Burt in a statement. "I am deeply concerned about reports of civilian casualties and indiscriminate shelling of the town."
More than 20 people were killed in recent fighting between area militias and rebel fighters near Bani Walid, a former Gadhafi stronghold.
Burt called on Libyan leaders to respect the spirit of the revolution and resolve to end political disputes peacefully.
"The U.K. government has made this clear to the Libyan authorities and we will continue to do so," he said.