New mass grave discovered in Libya’s Tarhuna

Libyan authorities unearthed 10 bodies from a mass grave in the city of Tarhuna, south of the capital Tripoli, reported on Sunday.

The mass grave was discovered on Saturday in a large agricultural area called Mashrou ‘Alrabet in the city, Lutfi Tawfiq, head of the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

He said the tomb is the second to be discovered in the city in the last ten days.

In March, the authority said it had lists of 3,650 missing people in various Libyan cities, including 350 in Tarhuna, which was a stronghold of Putist general Khalifa Haftar before being defeated and forced to leave the city in June 2020.

According to official Libyan sources, Haftar’s forces and affiliated militias committed war crimes and genocide during the period between April 2019 and June 2020.

In July, more than 140 body graves were excavated in a slow process that began in June 2020 after the city was captured from eastern-based forces loyal to the warlord Haftar. The Al-Kaniyat militia had first supported the internationally recognized National Accord Government (GNA) based in Tripoli, which was mainly supported by Turkey and Qatar.

But when Haftar’s forces used Tarhuna as a starting shot for an offensive against the capital in April 2019, al-Kaniyat changed his loyalty. They chose the losing side.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says at least 338 people were abducted or reported missing during the five-year period in al-Kaniyat. “Residents reported that the militia often kidnapped, detained, tortured, killed and (caused) the disappearance of people who opposed them or were suspected of doing so,” HRW said.

On March 16, a new transitional government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was approved to lead the country to elections in December.

The Libyan government has repeatedly called on the UN, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and human rights groups to demand an international inquiry into the mass graves.

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