Tripoli - Dozens of charred bodies were discovered in a warehouse outside Tripoli as tens of thousands of prisoners of Muammar Gaddafi's regime are missing a week after the Libyan capital fell to rebels.
Gaddafi's troops used the warehouse in Salahaddin, south of Tripoli, to detain civilians, residents said. When the soldiers could no longer hold the building as the rebels advanced, they set it on fire, the residents said.
Human Rights Watch, which interviewed survivors of the makeshift prison, said the detainees were executed on Tuesday when Gaddafi troops opened fire on the prisoners and threw grenades into the warehouse. The building was set on fire three days later, the rights group said Monday.
It found about 45 bodies inside and two unburned bodies outside the warehouse, which is next to a military base.
“Sadly this is not the first gruesome report of what appears to be the summary execution of detainees in the final days of the Gaddafi government's control of Tripoli,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Survivors told the rights group that they were being held on suspicion of being rebels or of supporting the guerillas, who have been fighting to overthrow the Gaddafi regime since February.
The rebel National Transitional Council said more than 50 000
prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime have disappeared. Rebels also found the charred remains of prisoners in hospitals after they took Tripoli.
The rebels said they were preparing to attack Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown. They were negotiating for a peaceful handover of the strategic coastal city, which lies between Tripoli and the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the east. - Sapa-dpa