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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 13 August 2022

Mass grave with bodies of over 1,200 prisoners reported in Libya

NTC officials say the victims of a 1996 massacre by the Gaddafi regime.

Revolutionary fighters sit at a checkpoint outside Sirte, Libya, today.
Revolutionary fighters sit at a checkpoint outside Sirte, Libya, today.
Image: AP Photo/Gaia Anderson/PA

LIBYA’S INTERM authorities say they have discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 1,270 victims of the Gaddafi regime.

They say that the grave was found near the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, where inmates protesting conditions at the facility were killed in June 1996.

Dr Ibrahim Abu Sahima of the interim government’s committee to locate victims of the regime said today that the site was uncovered two weeks  ago on information from former officials and alleged witnesses.

Human Rights Watch said in a 2006 report that information about the deaths began to emerge in the summer of 1996, but that details were scant and the government initially denied the reports.

A former inmate told HRW that hundreds of prisoners were moved outside to courtyards before he heard grenades exploding and gunfire. He claims he saw men in military uniform shooting wounded prisoners with pistols to “finish off those who were not dead”.

The organisation says that the Libyan government began information the families of inmates in 2001 that their relatives had died, but without providing information about the death or releasing their remains. Three years later, Gaddafi acknowledged that the killings had taken place at Abu Salim.

Officials said today they would appeal for international assistance in identifying the remains.

Today’s announcement comes as fierce fighting continues between rebel forces and Gaddafi loyalists at the former leader’s hometown of Sirte. Rebels have surrounded the city.

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An official from the National Transitional Council said that pro-Gaddafi fighters had killed six rebel fighters and injured 63 others in an attack along the Algerian border today.

- Additional reporting by the AP

Read: Rebels push into Gaddafi hometown of Sirte as loyalists fight on >

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