Tribal elders in one of Libya’s last remaining strongholds loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have been negotiating with troops from the new administration.
Fighters intent on taking control have been gathering all around Bani Walid.
National Transitional Council negotiators told the elders they do not want to fire a single shot, though they are prepared to act militarily if necessary.
Earlier reports from an Italian news agency that Bani Walid had already surrendered have not been confirmed.
There has also been speculation that Gaddafi family members — even the former leader himself — might be hiding in the town.
The NTC leadership set a deadline last week for towns loyal to Gaddafi to surrender or face military force. They extended it to try to avoid more bloodshed.