A dozen bodies have been unearthed in newly found mass graves in the Tarhuna region of western Libya, AFP has reported. This is where renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces launched an aborted assault on Tripoli last year.
A total of 98 bodies have now been found since searches for mass graves were started after the withdrawal of Haftar’s forces from western Libya in June.
“Four new sites have been discovered, two of them mass graves and two individual graves, in Tarhuna… and unidentified bodies have been exhumed,” said a specially-tasked committee on Facebook on Wednesday. The committee was established by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord with a brief to search for missing people. At least 16 more mass graves have yet to be unearthed, according to Abdel Hakim Abu Naama, who heads the non-governmental Association of Tarhuna Victims.
The warring factions in Libya signed a “permanent ceasefire” accord on Friday, following UN-sponsored talks in Geneva. The UN expects further talks to set a date for national elections.
2 mass graves in Tarhuna
The Libyan government in mid-October said it had discovered two mass graves in the city of Tarhuna, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of the capital Tripoli, likely left behind by forces of retreating warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons said in a statement that “the first grave contains four corpses, where Authority’s teams are still working to exhume the bodies.”
The authority also said that after ending work on the first grave, “work will start on the second grave, which is expected to include a number of corpses.”
It added that since Haftar’s forces were driven from western Libya, atrocities they committed in areas once under his control are discovered on almost a daily basis.
According to Libyan official sources, Haftar’s forces and affiliated militia committed war crimes and acts of genocide in the period between April 2019 and June 2020.
On June 16, the Libyan government found 226 dead bodies in mass graves in Tarhuna and south of Tripoli.
The UN recognizes the government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as Tripoli has battled Haftar’s militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.