Grisly find of mass grave in Tripoli

2011-08-27 16:51

The bodies of dozens of Libyans were found in a mass grave near Tripoli, where they were allegedly executed by pro-Gaddafi forces, Sky News reported yesterday.

A burnt-out warehouse was also discovered where the bodies of civilians and two soldiers were found.

Locals told Sky News the soldiers did not want to shoot the people inside the warehouse.

The soldiers were found with their hands bound behind their backs. Sky News interviewed a resident who said that 150 civilians were killed while 10 escaped.

The warehouse was occupied by the military, and local residents could only go to the scene once the military had left.

The discovery of the mass grave came as fears start to grow about the humanitarian situation in Libya.

Earlier yesterday, more dead bodies were found at a hospital near Tripoli, Reuters reported. They were patients apparently abandoned in their beds at the Abu Salim building when fighting broke out last week.

Most of the victims were men and several had been shot, according to reports. Witnesses described seeing decomposing bodies piled up in the building.

It was unclear when the men died or who had killed them, but reports said they had a darker skin tone than most Libyans. Gaddafi had recruited fighters from sub-Saharan Africa as mercenaries.

Amnesty International said on Friday it had evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces had killed several prisoners in two camps in Tripoli since the battle for the capital erupted a week ago.

Despite a $1.3?million (R9.1?million) reward for Gaddafi’s head, the Libyan leader has managed to evade capture.

Egypt’s state news agency sparked a new round of speculation about his whereabouts when it quoted a Libyan rebel source saying a convoy of six armoured Mercedes vehicles – which crossed from Libya into Algeria – may have been transporting Gaddafi.

Rebel officials and fighters have on several occasions said that they know where Gaddafi is and have him cornered, but those assertions later turned out to be false.

“Gaddafi is the biggest criminal and dictator and we hope we will find him before the end of Ramadan,” said Milad Abu Aisha (60) after prayers at a Tripoli mosque last Friday before Ramadan ends early this week.

According to Hargreaves Magama, the portfolio committee chairperson for international relations, the UN was to blame for misinterpreting the resolution that authorised the intervention of Nato in Libya.

Nato went beyond the power the resolution afforded it and, as a result, civilians were killed.

“Now there is a problem with UN credibility and those who were implementing the ­ resolution,” he said.

Magama said South Africa had tried to correct its faulty decision on Myanmar (formerly Burma) during its previous stint on the UN Security Council by voting in favour of the Nato resolution on Libya.

“The president [Jacob Zuma] took the decision he did to defend civilians; we knew there was carnage in the country.

When we took a decision at the UN about Myanmar, people said we didn’t defend human rights, and that is what we are doing here,” Magama said.

Meanwhile, residents in Tripoli are facing major shortages as the rebels take over the capital city.

“There are widespread shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies, particularly in the Nafusa Mountains and Tripoli,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said from New York.

He cited reports that the water supply to Tripoli and its environs may be in danger, putting three million people or more at risk.

Britain has promised $4.9 million (R34.3 million) in urgent aid to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help it treat up to 5 000 war-wounded.

The money will also go to providing food for nearly 690?000 people forced to flee their homes. – Reuters, Sky News and additional reporting by Mandy Rossouw

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