Monday, 26 September 2011

Libya: A mass grave found within the grounds of Abu Salim prison

According to Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) a mass grave thought to contain up to 1,2700 human bodies has been found in the country's capital city of Tripoli. It is believed that the remains are of prisoners killed by security troops in 1996 in the Abu Salim prison.

The protests against Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, began as a demand to release the lawyer who represented the families of the prisoners.

NTC said it unearthed the site, a desert field scattered with bone fragments within the grounds of the Abu Salim prison, after questioning prison guards who had worked there when the prisoners were killed after protesting against their conditions.

It has been reported that several family members have visited the site, where excavations are set to begin shortly. Up to now, little has been known about the circumstance in which the prisoners died.

A few eyewitnesses spoke to the BBC about the fact that those killed were executed in their cells by grenades and sustained gunfire after a protest. Officials in the new government say they will need foreign forensic help to determine the circumstances of their deaths.

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, Bloomberg

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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