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Sunday, September 19, 2021
DOHA, Aug 25 2011 - Al Jazeera has found evidence of a possible mass execution of political activists in Libya.
Visiting a hospital in Tripoli on Thursday, Al Jazeera’s James Bays said he saw the bodies of 15 men suspected to have been killed a few days earlier as the rebels closed in on the Libyan capital.
“The smell here is overpowering,” Bays said from the hospital where a number of bodies lay.
“I have counted the bodies of 15 men we were told there were 17 here. Two bodies were taken away by relatives for burial.”
“We are told these men were political activists who have been arrested over the last few days and weeks and being held near the Gaddafi compound. When the opposition fighters started to enter the compound we are told they were killed.
“Everyone I have spoken to who has looked at these injuries, all the medical staff, they say they believe that the injuries they see on the bodies of these men have the hallmark of a mass execution.”
Hunt for Gaddafi
The grisly discovery came amid rumours that rebels had surrounded a Tripoli building where Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader now on the run, is reportedly hiding along with some of his sons.
“They are together. They are in a small hole,” Muhammad Gomaa, one of the fighters involved in the battle near Bab al-Aziziya – Gaddafi’s compound that was overrun by the rebels – told Reuters. “Today we finish. Today we will end that.”
However, Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reporting from Tripoli, said “at the moment, these are rumours, we cannot confirm whether those reports are true or not.”
The rebels are determined to find Gaddafi, and have offered amnesty and a reward to anyone who kills or captures the 69-year-old Libyan leader.
In Benghazi, the National Transitional Council (NTC) told a news conference on Wednesday that Libyan business people had contributed 1.7 million dollars for the cash reward.
“The NTC supports the initiative of businessmen who are offering two million dinars for the capture of Muammar Gaddafi, dead or alive,” Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the NTC chief, said.
Gaddafi made an audio address broadcast earlier on Wednesday by the al-Rai television channel. In the address he called on Tripoli residents to repel the rebels’ advance.
But rebel reinforcements have streamed into Tripoli to join in the fight against remnants of Gaddafi’s forces.
Fighting on Thursday was concentrated along the perimeters of Bab al-Aziziya and the neighbouring Abu Salim district, where Gaddafi reportedly released, armed and paid former prisoners to fight for his regime.
A rebel spokesman told Al Jazeera that “Libyan territory is 90 to 95 per cent under the control of the rebellion”.
Turton reported on Thursday that locals are very worried that there are going to be attacks by pro-Gaddafi supporters across the city.
“There are check points popping up all over the city. Locals are managing to get hold of weapons to police their streets,” she said.
“There is a lot of nervousness … people are very worried that Gaddafi loyalists are coming through these streets
“We’ve been told about clashes as rebels try to regain control of Abu Salim, the pro-Gaddafi neighbourhood that took a lot of casualties yesterday when rebels took on Gaddafi loyalists there.”
The fight for Sirte
Elsewhere in the country, rebel commanders said they are readying fresh attempts to advance against Gaddafi’s forces in his hometown Sirte, 360km east of the capital and to break a siege of Zuwarah, a town to the west.
Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Ras Lanuf, 200km from Sirte, said rebels there were assembling heavy weaponry in anticipation of an assault on the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte.
However, Scott Heidler, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the eastern city of Benghazi, said there had already been a stop to rebel advancement towards the Gaddafi stronghold.
“So we are facing a battle in the coming hours,” he said.
Rebels advancing towards Sirte were also blocked on Wednesday in the town of Bin Jawad as loyalists kept up stiff resistance.
* Published under an agreement with Al Jazeera.
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