North of Bani Walid, Libya: Libyan forces who have launched an assault on the last holdout towns of Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists were still meeting resistance in one desert town Sunday, and said they had edged towards the ousted ruler's birthplace Sirte.

"We are inside Bani Walid, we control big chunks of the city. There are still pockets of resistance," one fighter named Sabhil Warfalli said as he drove away from the front line in the town 150km southeast of Tripoli.

A pro-Gaddafi local radio station appealed for the city's 100,000 people to fight to the death.

"We urge the people of Bani Walid to defend the city against the rats and armed gangs. Don't back down. Fight to the death. We are waiting for you. You are just a bunch of gangsters. God is on our side," an announcer said in language that echoed that used by Gaddafi in recent broadcasts.

Gaddafi's loyalists also control Sirte, which sits on the main east-west coastal highway, effectively cutting Libya in two.

Advancing National Transitional Council troops said the frontline was now about 90km east of the city.

Fighters were firing tanks and howitzers amid the sound of heavy machinegun fire and the roar of Nato warplanes overheard.

Meanwhile, Bouzaid Dorda, head of Gaddafi's external security organisation, has been arrested by anti-Gaddafi fighters, witnesses said yesterday.

Dorda, Gaddafi's foreign intelligence service chief, was to be handed over to Libya's interim governing council later yesterday, an anti-Gaddafi fighter told Reuters.