TRIPOLI, Libya – Retreating loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi killed scores of detainees and arbitrarily shot civilians over the past week, as rebel forces extended their control over the Libyan capital, survivors and a human rights group said Sunday.
In one case, Gadhafi fighters opened fire and hurled grenades at more than 120 civilians huddling in a hangar used as a makeshift lockup near a military base, said Mabrouk Abdullah, 45, who escaped with a bullet wound in his side. Some 50 charred corpses were still scattered across the hangar Sunday.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the evidence it has collected so far “strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.” The justice minister in the rebels’ interim government, Mohammed al-Alagi, said the allegations would be investigated and leaders of Gadhafi’s military units put on trial.
So far, there have been no specific allegations of atrocities carried out by rebel fighters, though human rights groups are continuing to investigate some unsolved cases.
As the rebels consolidated their control and Gadhafi fighters fled, reports of atrocities began emerging over the weekend.
Human Rights Watch said it has evidence indicating regime troops killed at least 17 detainees in an improvised lockup, a building of Libya’s internal security service, in the Gargur neighborhood of Tripoli. A doctor who examined the corpses said about half had been shot in the back of the head and that abrasions on ankles and wrists suggested they had been bound.
Gadhafi forces set up another detention center in a hangar near their Yarmouk military base in southern Tripoli.
Abdullah, who was at the hangar Sunday, said he had survived a massacre there last week. All civilian captives were beaten and tortured, he said.
“They didn’t even ask us questions,” he said, “They just beat us and called us rats.”