UN voices 'horror' after reports of Libya mass graves

accreditation
  • Presumed mass graves have been discovered near Tarhuna, southeast of the capital Tripoli.
  • An AFP journalist on Thursday was granted access to a site where several bodies had been discovered.
  • Scraps of clothing were scattered around the site near graves covered with fresh soil.


The United Nations voiced "horror" after reports that eight mass graves had been discovered in an area recently seized by the unity government after forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar withdrew.

"UNSMIL notes with horror reports on the discovery of at least eight mass graves in past days, the majority of them in Tarhuna," the UN mission said in a statement on Twitter.

"International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective & transparent investigations into all alleged cases of unlawful deaths," it added.

Several presumed mass graves have been discovered near Tarhuna, southeast of the capital Tripoli, since it was seized back by forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord on 5 June.

An AFP journalist on Thursday was granted access to a site where several bodies had been discovered and exhumed by the Libyan Red Crescent for identification the day before.

Scraps of clothing were scattered around the site near graves covered with fresh soil.

"We are searching all the mass graves to identify the bodies and return them to their families," said GNA interior minister Fathi Bachagha, who was in Tarhuna on Thursday.

READ | Libya warring rivals agree to return to ceasefire talks - UN mission

UNSMIL welcomed a decision on Thursday by the justice minister to establish a committee to investigate the finds.

"We call on its members to promptly undertake the work aimed at securing the mass graves, identifying the victims, establishing causes of death & returning the bodies to next of kin," it said.

Separately, 160 bodies were also discovered in the morgue by GNA forces upon their arrival in the city, according to the director of Tarhuna's public hospital, Aburawi al-Buzeidi.

The bodies "were transferred to Tripoli and Misrata by the Red Crescent", he told journalists, giving no further detail.

ALSO READ | Libya marks year of fighting, fears worse to come

Tarhuna was the main rear base for a devastating year-long offensive by eastern-based Haftar's forces to seize the capital from the unity government.

Pro-Haftar forces backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates had been battling since April in fighting that has left hundreds dead and forced 200 000 to flee their homes.

In recent weeks the GNA, reinforced with Turkish drones and air defences, has staged a pounding counter-attack to regain control of the whole of the northwest.

Haftar's forces this month abandoned their remaining positions in the southern suburbs to advancing government troops.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Should pension fund members be allowed to access their savings before retirement?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's their money to do with as they please.
32% - 103 votes
No, more people will end up without enough savings in retirement.
40% - 126 votes
Depends on how big the withdrawal limits will be.
28% - 88 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.28
+0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.89
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.95
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.56
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.2%
Gold
1,812.44
+0.1%
Silver
25.58
+0.3%
Palladium
2,660.15
+0.3%
Platinum
1,051.68
-0.1%
Brent Crude
72.41
-0.7%
Top 40
62,543
0.0%
All Share
68,706
0.0%
Resource 10
71,203
0.0%
Industrial 25
86,170
0.0%
Financial 15
13,129
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE