Twelve bodies found in Libya mass graves

The bodies were recovered from newly discovered mass graves in Tarhuna, south of capital Tripoli.

A member of security forces affiliated with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)''s Interior Ministry points at the reported site of a mass grave in the town of Tarhuna, about 65 kilometres s
Hundreds have been killed and some 200,000 people displaced in Libya since the latest escalation, which began in April 2019 [File: Mahmud Turkia/AFP]

Twelve unidentified bodies were found in mass graves in the Libyan city of Tarhuna, south of the capital, Tripoli.

The bodies, found on Sunday, were recovered from the newly discovered mass graves, Abdul-Aziz Jafri, a spokesman for the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons, told Xinhua news agency.

A fact-finding mission to Libya was established by the United Nations’ top rights body in June after prosecutors from the International Criminal Court said that mass graves discovered recently may constitute war crimes.

At least eight mass graves were discovered at the time, in an area retaken by Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) from renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

According to the Tripoli-based GNA, most of the graves were found in Tarhuna, Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.

The city was used by his forces as a launchpad during an ill-fated 14-month offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA.

A total of 86 bodies have since been recovered in Tarhuna, and 28 others in Tripoli since the beginning of a search in June, according to Libyan media.

Libya, a significant oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.

Since 2015, a power struggle has pitted the GNA in Tripoli against eastern-based Haftar, with both sides backed by rival foreign powers.

Hundreds have been killed and some 200,000 people were displaced in Libya since the latest escalation, which began in April 2019, when Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognised GNA.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies