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Published: Monday, 8/29/2011

Noncombatants slain by Gadhafi’s forces

Detainees, civilians reportedly victims

ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi’s retreating loyalists killed scores of detainees and arbitrarily shot civilians in the past week, survivors and a human rights group said Sunday.

In one case, Gadhafi fighters fired shots and hurled grenades at more than 120 civilians huddling in a hangar used as a makeshift lockup near a military base, said Mabrouk Abdullah, 45. He received a bullet wound in his side.

Fifty charred corpses were scattered across the hangar Sunday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the evidence it has collected so far “strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.”

Mohammed al-Alagi, justice minister in the rebels’ interim government, said the allegations would be investigated and leaders of Gadhafi’s units put on trial.

So far, there have been no specific allegations of atrocities carried out by rebel fighters. Human rights groups continue to investigate some unsolved cases.

Associated Press reporters have witnessed several episodes of rebels mistreating detainees or sub-Saharan Africans suspected of being hired guns for Gadhafi.

Rebels and their supporters recently did not help eight wounded men, presumably Gadhafi fighters, stranded in a bombed-out fire station in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighborhood; some were pleading for water.

Najib Barakat, health minister in the interim government, said Sunday he did not have a death toll for the weeklong battle for Tripoli.

Hundreds have died. More bodies are being retrieved from the streets.

Mr. Barakat said efforts are being made to identify bodies. At the least, the corpses of suspected Gadhafi fighters, especially non-Libyans, are being photographed before burial to allow possible identification by relatives.

In fighting late Sunday, pro-Gadhafi elements fired Grad rockets at rebel forces gathering in Nawfaliyah, not far from Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, rebels said.

Rebels gave residents 10 days to let rebels enter peacefully or to face an assault.

A rebel spokesman said many Gadhafi loyalists have fled to Sirte and are preparing for a fierce battle.

Rebels rode into Tripoli a week ago, then fought fierce battles with the defenders, especially at Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound and in the Abu Salim neighborhood, a regime stronghold.

Over the weekend, as the rebels consolidated their control and Gadhafi fighters fled, reports of atrocities began to emerge.

Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating regime troops killed at least 17 detainees in an improvised lockup, a building of Libya’s internal security service, in Tripoli. A doctor who examined the corpses said about half had been shot in the back of the head and abrasions on ankles and wrists suggested they had been bound.



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