Libyan pro-government militiamen have captured the center of a city that was one of the last strongholds of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi's loyalists, following fierce clashes that left dozens dead and tens of thousands displaced.

An Associated Press reporter at the center of Bani Walid, some 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, saw fighters firing their weapons into the air in celebration on Wednesday. Columns of smoke billowed into the sky near the airport outside, where clashes are still ongoing despite official statements that the government is in full control.

Libya's official news agency said Tuesday that 13,000 families have been displaced by the fighting.

Bani Walid became a bastion of Qaddafi loyalists during and after the eight-month conflict that led to fall of his regime last year.