Marc Bastian, AFP
Last updated: 26 August, 2011

No mercy in Tripoli fighting

Beatings, lynchings and summary executions: Moamer Kadhafi’s fighters and their rebel opponents have shown little mercy for each other in the heavy battles for the control of Tripoli in the past few days.

In the southern district of Abu Slim, a generally pro-Kadhafi neighbourhood, scores of corpses rot in the sun near the Bab al-Aziziya compound from where the strongman ruled Libya for more than four decades.

“Kadhafi’s men, foreign mercenaries,” a rebel fighter, Ibrahim Abdulhadin, guarding a nearby checkpoint said.

Several bodies had been bound and shot in the back in what some of the rebels admitted in hushed tones had been a summary execution.

They charged that Kadhafi’s forces had been guilty of much worse offences in the months since the uprising began in mid-February, torturing and shooting people, using heavy weapons against protestors and shelling cities with heavy artillery.

Such incidents reported in the media and backed by rights groups have eroded support for Kadhafi, but failed to deter the loyalist forces from using similar tactics in their battle with the rebels in Tripoli.

On Thursday as the two groups clashed heavily in the capital, rebel fighters showed two corpses lying in a hall of a building.

“These residents refused to take weapons given by the men of Kadhafi to fight us. They were executed with a bullet in the head,” said a rebel, whose claim was backed by several locals from Abu Slim.

But a few hours later, the rebels captured several prisoners, a man was pinned to the ground and a shot rang out. The body did not move.

In a separate incident, a group of revolutionaries set upon another prisoner, who fell and a lynching began. He was kicked repeatedly and only saved from worse when a rebel shouted a warning, “Stop, Stop, journalists!”

Nearby a family stepped out of a building riddled with bullets with an injured girl in the arms of her father. The rebels agreed to evacuate them to a hospital, but chased away a teenager who had a bullet in the leg, showering him with insults.

A rebel in his fifties who gave his name as Abdelnasser justified the fury of fellow rebels.

“Most people here are pro-Kadhafi and shoot at us. We cannot trust them, even young people like him,” he said.

Rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned violations in the war in Libya, often by Kadhafi forces, but also by the rebels.

On Friday, local rebel military chief Abdel Nagib Mlegta said that forces loyal to Kadhafi killed more than 150 prisoners in a “mass murder” as they fled Bab al-Aziziya.

Amnesty said it had uncovered evidence that Kadhafi fighters had killed “numerous” prisoners at two military camps in Tripoli.

Amnesty claimed that pro-regime forces had raped boys at the Abu Slim prison in Tripoli, but also accused rebels of holding prisoner African migrant workers it suspected of being mercenaries.