Militias have seized the town of Bani Walid in the Misrata province of central Libya from the control of the ruling National Transitional Government (NTC).

At least four people were killed in clashes in the town, 110 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, according to Reuters news agency.

Despite the appearance of green flags in the town, representing the fall regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the government says it is unclear if the fighters are loyal to the old regime.

Libya’s Defence Minister Osama Jweli, said he would not order army units to enter until he had established whether the fighting was indeed a pro-Gaddafi uprising or a battle between rival clans, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reports.

The town fell to the NTC in August last year, which declared Libya liberated from Gaddafi’s government on 23 October. Bani Walid was the scene of fighting in November when NTC forces searched the town for war crime suspects and clashed with local militias.

Protests against the NTC government have increased in recent weeks, as it appears incapable of disarming the numerous militias, which were established during the nine-month uprising. National elections are planned for June (MEED 23:1:12).