UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed shock at the discovery of mass graves in Libyan territory recently recaptured from forces commanded by Khalifa Hifter.
At least eight mass graves have been discovered, mostly in the town of Tarhuna, a key western town that served as a main stronghold for Khalifa’s east-based forces in their 14-month campaign to capture the capital Tripoli -The UN reported on Friday.
The UN boss called for a transparent investigation into the newly discovered mass graves.
The UN chief also called on Libya’s UN-supported government to secure the mass graves, identify the victims, establish the causes of death and return the bodies to next of kin. Guterres offered UN support in carrying it out, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The discoveries have raised fears about the extent of human rights violations in territories controlled by Hifter’s forces, given the difficulties of documentation in an active war zone.
Philippe Nassif, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the group was working to verify the mass killings.
“We want to be able to go in, or have the U.N. go in, and collect evidence of potential war crimes and other atrocities … so eventually a process takes place where justice can be served,” he said.
Last week, militias allied with the UN-supported government in Tripoli recaptured Tarhuna, some 65 kilometres (41 miles) southeast of the Libyan capital, their latest in a string of battlefield successes that reversed most of Hifter’s gains.
Earlier, the government said it regained control of all of Tripoli’s entrance and exit points and Tripoli airport.