Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Tripoli Massacres: Slashing and Dumping at the Roundabout

September 3, 2011
last update Dec. 12

<< The Tripoli Massacres

This post will deal with, and gather posts going deeper into, the grisly finds just outside the Gaddafi compound of Bab al-Aziziya on August 24 and then 25. (Location at left, labeled"dump area") As rebels tightened their grip on the area, they also claimed Gaddafi's shadow fighters had killed at least 26 people here. The dead look to be apparent Gaddafi fighters/"mercenaries" and/or loyalist civilians fleeing with bedding and/or manning a loyalist encampment, including treating wounded in a medical tent.

The dead seem to be in two groups and of two types that are quite distinct, although some sources tend to jumble them together. One group is about one dozen (or two truckloads) of black men, in a mix of civilian clothing (primarily) and partial military clothing (at least two, bound tightly). They look like the usual hodge-podge frequently dubbed "African mercenaries," when most clearly aren't. Those in civvies aren't even dressed "sporty." At least some of these bodies (the two real fighter types at least) were executed somewhere some days prior to their discovery, judging by the maggots and decay I explain (along with the implications) here. (Un-noted there, ready for update - Reuters filmed the previous day and saw none of these same bodies. It seems unlikely they could miss them, and no way are they overnight, on-site kills. The two apparent fighters at least must have been dumped there)

Others, approximately a dozen total, apparently, are unarmed civilian Gaddafi loyalists killed in a medical tent and elsewhere, apparently early on August 25 itself. Some at least clearly died by the blade, not the bullet. One conveniently bald-headed victim apparently had a sword thrust through the top of his skull. (see right - victim #17 as given at the link and map below). He might've been there two days or more, trickling a little blood, no sign of decay. One could wonder if he was even killed or just put into a coma. And one hopes that was figured out before burial.

Sub-Post: The Tripoli Massacres: Mapping out the Roundabout
Setting the minimum number of dead as 26, placing them pretty exactly, in space if not time, and giving each a number. The final graphic is below:

There are a further seven bodies that were seen on the 25th, quite nearby, and arguably part of this crime scene. These were however too far away to fit on a workable map, out of this public space, and sort-of within the compound's walls (just off of the upper right corner here). These bodies are covered in this post.

Aug. 23: rebel fighters first enter Bab al-Aziziyah. The area, like the 95% of Tripoli they claim, would seem to be under their control. However, as Sean Smith noted for the Guardian that day: "[The Gaddafi loyalists] certainly hadn't fought to the last man. There weren't the bodies of Gaddafi supporters lying around." They would start doing that soon. 33 right around the compound, 18 just south, 75-200 (reports vary) slaughtered and dumped at the hospital south of that, many others scattered about, and then Yarmouk...
Aug. 24: Bodies filmed by Al Jazeera and Reuters, both seemingly late afternoon. Bodies 1-8 plus bodies 19 and 20 are shown. The medical tent victims (#21-26), just behind these dead men, were probably deceased by then too, and quite likely #17/18 nearby. Bodies 9-16 are not shown this day.
Aug. 25: CNN and other footage is recorded, at various times all day. There seem to be more bodies; #1-8 seem to be missing, but all others are visible this day, as well as the seven just north of there.

The below stuff will be revised / split-off / whatever at a later date.

The tent victims
The first I heard of any of this was from Hadeel al-Shalchi, AP, Aug 26:
By sundown the rebels appeared to have won the battle for the Abu Salim neighborhood, next to Gadhafi's captured Tripoli compound [...] Outside his Bab al-Aziziya compound, which rebels captured Tuesday, there was another grim scene — one that suggested mass, execution-style killings of civilians.

About two dozen bodies — some with their hands bound by plastic ties and with bullet wounds to the head — lay scattered on grassy lots in an area where Gadhafi sympathizers had camped out for months.

The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign.

Five or six bodies were in a tent erected on a roundabout that had served as a field clinic. One of the dead still had an IV in his arm, and another body was completely charred, its legs missing. The body of a doctor, in his green hospital gown, was found dumped in the canal.
The last could be related to this, or to Abu Salim Trauma Hospital, or to the doctor and nurses killed nearby, two black male nurses seen executed among 18 others... Mr. al-Shalchi writes that "it was unclear who was responsible for the killings," but they were Gaddafi-supporting people by the look of it, and found slain just as rebel fighters pushed in that way. The doctor I'll deal with separately, perhaps in connection with the Abu Salim trauma hospital, about one km south of the spot in question (see below) and about 1km west of a canal. The hospital had its staff "run away," leaving about 100 dead black men unattended to there.

As far as this medical tent is concerned, there is a very high resolution image I found elsewhere of the victims (five visible). And they were killed. At least two victims are black, and smallish. Those shown are not charred, bloodied, but not gory. It's not obvious how they died, really, but throat-slitting seems to fit the bill as much as anything. I'll come back to this ...

The Independent reported on the 27th, explaining how this number of victims is at least a bit higher than the five inside:
[The  murders] had taken place at a makeshift hospital, in a tent marked clearly with the symbols of the Islamic Crescent. Some of the dead were on stretchers, attached to intravenous drips. Some were on the back of an ambulance that had been shot at. A few were on the ground, seemingly attempting to crawl to safety when the bullets came.
"Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries," shouted Ahmed Bin Sabri, lifting the tent flap to show the body of one dead patient, his grey T-shirt stained dark red with blood, the saline pipe running into his arm black with flies. Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed? Mr Sabri, more a camp follower than a fighter, shrugged. It was seemingly incomprehensible to him that anything wrong had been done.
The "Gaddafi fighters"
Then there's the video, with Dan Rivers reporting for CNN on August 25 - twice it seems. This shows the grisly scene also visible, in part, at left. He counted twelve bodies in the area he was shown, hands bound behind, executed. "It's a grim, grim scene, and just redolant of how fierce the fighting was here," he said.

Actually no - as I've found, and as the smell should have told him, these guys (at least the two in the foreground here) were long dead, discolored, crawling with maggots, and just starting to come apart. "We don't know what happened to these people, whether they were executed by the rebels [turning in their direction, as a shot is fired in the air] or, or what." Then his drivers/minders, rifles out in their pickup, honk that it's time to go and they do quickly turn and go.

Another view, again skipping the embedding for consistency, has Rivers again, with a somewhat different report - presumably also from CNN - from the same scene (it's videotaped off the screen, with titles cut off). Here the camera pans in on the bodies more, and he relates that "the rebels say they were executed by Gaddafi's men. But these bodies appear to be black Africans. Black Africans make up a large portion of Gaddafi's army, raising questions about whether the men were executed by the rebels."

I should add that he can't say if they were Africans (foreigners) or black Libyans. And both groups make up a good part of his civilian supporters as well as fighters. His rebel minders apparently didn't take him to the medical tent.

There's also a better resolution AFP video of these and other victims, the tent and whole area, and the high-res photo of two victims that has little obvious use except to prove the decay in disgusting detail.

The Independent, perhaps getting groups conflated to get a high count:
Around 30 men lay decomposing in the heat. Many of them had their hands tied behind their back, either with plastic handcuffs or ropes. One had a scarf stuffed into his mouth. Almost all of the victims were black men. Their bodies had been dumped near the scene of two of the fierce battles between rebel and regime forces in Tripoli.

The corpses were on the grass verges of two large roundabouts between Bab al-Aziziyah, Muammar Gaddafi's compound stormed by the revolutionaries at the weekend and Abu Salim, a loyalist district which saw three days of ferocious violence.

Connecting the Victim Groups
Why anyone would dump decaying corpses right there is a small mystery, but compounding it is why the numerous unarmed civilians who were camped out right next to that spot. I'm currently pondering both mysteries, and welcome anyone else's thoughts.


  1. This seems to be a video of the Green supporter camp next to the Bab al-Aziziya compound before its capture by rebels in August.


  2. Just the video I was just looking for. Thanks for putting the link here.

  3. This TeleSUR video shows black civilians having their hands bound from about 0.53,The violence on the streets of Tripoli 08/25/2011

  4. Ms (not Mr) Shalchi makes another observation for AP which I hadn't noticed before - the fire station clinic:
    Men believed to be Gadhafi supporters or fighters were left moaning and calling for water at a clinic attached to a fire station in Abu-Salim. Curious men from the neighborhood climbed stairs to look at the men, but none offered help....Associated Press reporters flagged down a cab to take some of the wounded from the clinic to a hospital. The driver at first agreed, but men from the neighborhood intervened, saying the men would have to be interrogated before they could be moved.

    So what happened to them? There are photos of bodies outside the fire station elsewhere.

  5. Euronews also visited the roundabout, Mustafa Bag reporting, in connection with a story about a young female killing 16 rebels. There is footage of fighting at, then dead people at the roundabout at 0.42, followed by what looks very like the Mitiga military hospital at 0.44,with footage of a blurred woman in bed. I tend to connect this with the 17 bodies arriving at Mitiga about 24 August. Video Libye une jeune fille tue 16 rebelles Uploaded by dictioaric on 27 August.

  6. Mustaga Bag was filming during fighting at the roundabout near the Bab Al Aziziya compound on 25 August. euronews' correspondent caught up in a Tripoli fire fight - no comment , uploaded by nocommenttv on 26 August.

  7. a bit more excellent footage in the WatTV video at 0.47 of two bodies beside an Armal portable toilet. The camera pans round to a field hospital immediately behind,where we see bodies inside the tent, courtesy of a gun toting rebel. (Your ref #19). more bodies are shown at 1.04. I would love to know what the Dentist in the car at 1.06 is saying - he is obviously not talking French, and says Hello, (not arabic I suspect) and speaks English but not with an english accent. He drives a local Tripoli 5 registered car. Translation of French voice over the Dentist,anyone - @hurriya?

  8. forgive me for smashing vids on blog that I did sample of tents : look if there is something important inside and after delete it.
    Its not sorted out on date ,exact place , & many times moved from one file to another


    Uploaded on Aug 27, 2011

    Bab Azizia battle - Part I/Aug 27, 2011

    Uploaded by xgotfiveonitx on Aug 25, 2011
    burning tents 2.29

    LIBYA: Fighting rages on in Capital Tripoli 8/25/11


    1 big green tent, others small white

    15 man , 1 witness / mohamed rashir lib/english doctor
    tent on 2.01/ james bay 26 aug on the way to another massacre

    small tent 0.50/bodies 2.04?

    8/13 Libya: Mercenaries tents in front of Gaddafi compound in Tripoli 13/08/2011

    tent 0.5/body 0.87 tents ?burning at 1.05?
    inside tent 1.26/bodies outside 1.32

    burning tents 0.21?/bodies 0.21/bodies 0.30/bodies 1.01
    US Service member 1.07

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKL3TlQKL18&feature=related
    tents 1.00 / tents 2.21
    inside Bab Alazizia 25-8-2011 داخل البيت الصامد باب العزيزية

    inside 22 / 23

    mosque bab alziziya 2.15 & further [ in ramadan mosque shelter and food in night]

    photo's roundabout tents

    shoe with green flag 2.38/tents 2.41/excrevators in front of building?
    container 0.3 and tents/dozen bodies

    tents 1.06

    Libya - 20110823 - Bab Al Aziziya ,Tripoli - Rebel films his own arrival at Gaddafi compound.
    23 aug taking bab alziziya / tent on 2.28 seeing from inside


    Libia Tripoli abu slim.mov / 2.20/Uploaded by bacciocchifilippo on Sep 30, 2011
    the tents [ near to compound?]

    8/13 Libya: Mercenaries tents in front of Gaddafi compound in Tripoli 13/08/2011

    tents 0.21
    The last battle of Tripoli
    Uploaded by rockybarbarella on Aug 24, 2011

    Earlier, worshipers congregated under tents in Tripoli’s Green Square to shield themselves from the hot sun. Some wore photos of Khadafy around their necks, while others carried signs with his portrait./9 JULY

    alex crawford : "leaving behind a trail of dead khadafi soldiers & mercenaries"

    monday morning most of the city under control of the rebels [ 22 aug]

    Khadafi's tents inside compound

  10. @ felix the young lady shooting 16 people : is this the lady adam referred to as a member of the al farjani's?


    with increasingly intensive air raids leading up to the ground invasion on August: 20th:
    According to sources from our correspondent in Tripoli, the death toll in the course of the last week (20-26 August) is of the order of 3000.
    The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign. (Forbes.com, August 25, 2011)

  12. Some cool videos in there. I don't intend to delete these, since I won't be able to view all now, and the links might prove fertile. Anyone reading the comments can skip over links fine, usually.

    The Sky Video, in particular, has several useful views I hadn't seen yet. Will have to consider what it shows-perhaps another two victims, plus the five or soothers I still haven't added here.

  13. @hurriya.
    The tent city was also reported similarly, belonging to "in all likelihood" Gaddafi loyalists protesting at NATO bombing at msn :Bodies litter streets after fierce Tripoli battle. Perhaps the portable toilet,visible in the French WatTV video, was ordered by the loyalists?

  14. @hurriya - in the Sky video of Alex Crawford,, burning tents, the "rebel" at the beginning has strange northern european english accent. German? There is also a press photo at Allvoices, nr.23, showing the burning tents. Were there bodies inside?

  15. @felix :

    According to sources from our correspondent in Tripoli, the death toll in the course of the last week (20-26 August) is of the order of 3000.
    The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign. (Forbes.com, August 25, 2011)

    nato liberation

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqPYhPkfHdw&feature=relmfu“>thousands of bodies </a>

  16. I don't know, think I did the codes good, stay clumpsy

    without working link then :

    Death's ceremony lies on the floor, as the hundreds make way for the thousands of bodies to be disposed of.

  17. @ felix , y, there were many tents everywhere from start of the bombing. There also must be a report of some months before of, as I remember well 17, civilians staying in a local fire station been bombed

  18. Here is a AJE video with footage from the roundabout I had not seen before – thanks to hurriya.

    AJE: Fighting continues in Libya's capital
    Uploaded by Libyanym on Aug 26, 2011

  19. David D Kirkpatrick reporting in the NYT, 28 August 2011, Rebel Government Struggles to Restore Water and Power in Tripoli describes the number as 29:
    Another 29 bodies were found in and around a makeshift field clinic outside Bab al-Aziziya, Colonel Qaddafi’s main residence compound. Researchers for Human Rights Watch said they found four on hospital beds, several others on cushions in military tents, one with an apparent execution-style gunshot to the head, and another with wrists tied behind his back. A volunteer removing the bodies said at least three others were bound as well. But others were in uniform and wore Qaddafi belt buckles, or green ribbons on their wrists.

    1. @ felix : Abdul Hadi Abu Shahayna, a Tripoli judge who said he was held at the facility
      Abdul Hadi Abu Shahayna, a Tripoli judge who said he was held at the facility, said the other prisoners included lawyers, other judges and engineers — opposition figures, but also regular people caught up in a post-uprising sweep. Judge Abu Shahayna said he was arrested on May 25 and held until July 10 with a group that fluctuated in size between 70 and 100 people.

      judge fathi,tripoli/One of our correspondents in Libya, Jamel Ezzidini
      note @ 1.55 : we found khadafi's brigades, men of different nationalities fr chad,nigeriya ,also libiyans , with libiyan passports
      dr ahmed shalabi : 350 bodies in old regime's compound

      Elsanous Ali Eldorsi, a retired judge in Benghazi, :
      "We found 150 corpses burning and we believe they were the bodies of officers and soldiers who refused to follow orders to fire on the the people," he said.

    2. Off-topic here, but thanks. The judge is listed, but this is a second source and slightly different spelling. The video is new. He's also rebel fighter, as well as onetime claimed prisoner of the Yarmouk massacre shed. Specifying who was held there, targeted for removal -ordinary people, judges, lawyers, engineers-Gaddafi hated Libya so much he wanted to kill all talented and upstanding (light-skinned) people and replace them with African mercenary dogs. We're starting to get it now...

      The last guy Eldorsi is new also. Will check if he's worth adding.

    3. Oh, that's from Benghazi, the Katiba, apparently. Guardian, Feb. 21. 150 burned? How did I miss this before?

      Also: It has been largely quiet in the city since about 10 o'clock last night, he said, although citizens had been bracing themselves for an air strike that Arabic television channels had reported was on the way.
      Who in the "Arab media" had prepared people for the Malta pilots' story?

  20. @ caustic : The face of one was so badly decayed it appeared charred : at which place did your bodymover with a person with no flesh at his face popped up ?

    More bodies turned up in the streets on Friday, where occasional volleys of gunfire were heard. Near Colonel Qaddafi's abandoned citadel, Bab al-Aziziya, rebels began hauling away NINE bloated bodies.

    The face of one was so badly decayed it appeared charred.

    Six were dumped near a trash receptacle,

    two left under a stairwell

    and one thrown in a large ditch, his hands apparently cuffed.


    Published: August 26, 2011
    note : shed report amnesty already mentioned

    1. "began hauling away..." Like to the Khamis shed?? Have a look at this picture by Tyler Hicks
      The body at the rear reminds me of the one on the mattress in the alcove in the Khamis compound. Were any in underwear?
      Where did the water come from on the body on the 28th in the Khamis compound? Was it because the body had been killed somewhere else, and had been freshly placed for Sky TV, and overnight fluid leaked out??? Need to post this thought elsewhere....

  21. @Caustic - the body at the field hospital "very high resolution image" cited above is photographed by Benjamin Lowy from the other side. Image #3 at Daily Life (can't indivdually link), labelled The bodies of four recently killed pro-Gadhafi loyalists lie in an abandoned medical encampment near the south entrance of the Bab al-Aziziya compound Aug. 25, in Tripoli, Libya.

    Photographer's view: It was here that we came across dozens of bodies - at least 30 - of Gadhafi loyalist soldiers. But they weren't killed in the heat of battle. Nineteen of the bodies were in a makeshift combat hospital, the others were laid out on a grassy traffic island.

    On closer inspection though, we could see that these soldiers hands were zip-tied, basically handcuffed. Their bodies were riddled with bullets. It begs the question - are the rebels now the ones committing war crimes? Did they arrest and then execute these men? Is this retribution? Probably. Is it racism, since most of these bodies were black Africans, and the rebels - North Africans and brown- skinned - think that they are all mercenaries.

    Lowy doesn't seem to believe the narrative.
    19 in the tent??? I don't think #1-16 can by any stretch of the imagination be grouped with the field hospital.

    1. That's a good new photo I hadn't seen. Larger and unfiltered would be nice, but this is okay. And a strangely clear perception on his part. Whet did he think of the hospital, one wonders?

      The guy in the background, detail is added. He seems to have a messed-up face, with burning and raw flesh involved.

      I can think of about fourteen victims in or near that tent or the couple tents nearest to it, or the ambulance. The post above is pretty outdated now. Several more bodies seen and/or learned of since last update. So nineteen could be from a nice, thorough count around the area. And it could be including others that you or I would consider part of another grouping. Either way, cool find.

  22. I did post these photographs here I think on 5 may, don't see them now :


    The bodies of Gaddafi fighters, some bound and apparently shot, are cleared away from the roundabout outside the Bab Al Azizia/UPDATED: 21:37 GMT, 26 August 2011




    1. As you say, you posted these links to the sub-post on Mapping out the Roundabout.

      The article in the Daily Mail from August 26th is this:
      Take that Gaddafi: The symbolic monument to hiding dictator's power is desecrated by rebel forces

      This photo by Jamie Wiseman is most interesting:
      Scorch marks are left on the grass following the death of Gaddafi fighters who were bound and apparently shot

    2. @ petri : amazing : HRW starts reporting on it :

      27 aug

      26 August 2011
      The bodies of Gaddafi fighters, some bound and apparently shot, are cleared away from the roundabout outside the Bab Al Azizia/UPDATED: 21:37 GMT, 26 August 2011

    3. Hurriya - I transcribed the HRW interview here. While some aspects of it are rather fishy - absolute silence in the background - it was broadcast before the bodies were allegedly cleared away.

    4. @ felix : y right.

      26 August 2011 Last updated at 14:23 GMT
      cleared away from the roundabout outside the Bab Al Azizia/UPDATED: 21:37 GMT, 26 August 2011

      Btw what an amazing quickly research!

  23. The British news organization the Independent has published an article today that revealed some of the instances of this tragic race-based violence in Libya.
    One man named Ahmed Bin Sabri told the Independent as he pulled back a tent flap, “Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries.”


    Speaking of the dead bodies put on display by Bin Sabri, the Independent aptly points out, “Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed?”
    Bin Sabri merely shrugged in response and the Independent writes, “It was seemingly incomprehensible to him that anything wrong had been done.”

  24. Libyan rebels who entered Tripoli from three sides last week have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners in the fighting and are now holding them throughout the capital, sometimes in prisons that just a few days ago had held suspected anti-Gadhafi protesters. Perhaps just as often, the jails are makeshift facilities that previously had been schools.
    By David Enders, McClatchy Newspapers ,Sun Aug-28-11


    Above all, there is little sympathy for the hated mercenaries recruited by Gaddafi from Chad, Niger and Mauritania. Few African immigrants dare venture outside.

    There has been evidence of atrocities and vicious reprisals on both sides, with summary executions of prisoners, captives blown up with grenades and bodies found with hands tied behind their backs.

  25. On #Gaddafi prisoners found killed in #Tripoli with hands bound - Don't rush 2 judgement @amnesty - these prisoners were most likely executed by Regime hardliners - for refusing to keep fighting.
    To date there has been no probative evidence of any 'rebel' executions - whereas #Gaddafi executions of 'rebel' prisoners & his own hands bound troops refusing to commit war crimes - has been documented since the early days of the #Benghazi uprising:
    "GRAPHIC: Footage of soldiers executed by Gaddafi forces for refusing to shoot protesters:"
    http://www.libyafeb17.com/2011/03/graphic-footage-of-so... /
    "Executed by Gaddafi's forces" #Libya

    The new government's interim interior minister Ahmed Darrat is a first generation Libyan–American. He is part of numerous opposition groups, like Enough Gaddafi. Ahmed has never been to Libya

    After Ahmed Addarrat’s Enough!Gaddafi.com was hacked, he helped co-found http://feb17.info because of “the black hole of information.”

    1. The new government's interim interior minister Ahmed Darrat = ahmed hussein darrat

      "He was just helping people," Ahmed Hussein said about his friend of more than 20 years.

  26. Ahmad Darrat is "in charge of internal affairs and local governance" in the TNC - "like an interior minister," he explained to the BBC, "but the council avoids that title because we are not a government until Tripoli is liberated."


    Published: Jun 3, 2011 21:37 Updated: Jun 4, 2011 23:51

  27. NATO warplanes deliberately targeted the peaceful vigil of tents in front of the Gadhafi compound in a gruesome massacre.

    The mainstream media acknowledges the massacre, while stating that gun wounds are the cause of death in crossfire between loyalist and rebel forces.

    The victims are :
    "The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign. (Forbes.com, August 25, 2011) 


    1. in front of Bab al-Aziziya where there were tents mounted to the citizens and to show the paramedics

      and non-Libyans have been liquidated and their bodies left open more than 3 days just to shoot!!!!



  28. Thursday, August 24, 2011

    2:40 p.m. Reuters: Yesterday we reported that no prisoners were shown on CNN being taken out of the Qaddafi compound in Tripoli and that the CNN reporter, Sara Sidner refused to go in when the NATO gunmen told her, "Come in and let us show you what we have done."

    Today, Reuters shows footage of the compound shows some of their handiwork: a compound "littered" with the bodies of Libyan soldiers, handcuffed behind their backs and executed.

    Reuters also shows a pile of bodies of African men in an abandoned lot nearby executed in the same manner. Since the mercenaries began their work in Benghazi they have shown numerous videos of executions of Africans after Israel put out the rumor that African workers in Libya were spying and fighting for the Libyan government.


  29. The proud young black Libyans protecting their neighbourhoods were gone. Later we would see the images of them being rounded up and put on pickup trucks, a sight that in the previous months had been confined to places like Benghazi and Misrata.

    After heavy bombing and attacks by Apaches in Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood and one of the last areas to fall, Abu Saleem, eye witnesses reported seeing masses of bodies covering the streets. A relative of one of those feared to be amongst the carnage visited the local hospital where he said just one doctor and two nurses were left. Like masses of the capital’s workers, many hospital staff had fled, were in hiding or perhaps dead. When he asked to see the bodies, the guards told him there were none - his family fears they have been dumped in mass graves in locations that may for a long time be unknown.

    This bloodbath does not fit into the narrative of a “free Libya” in which civilians are “protected”, but in such an atmosphere charged with the hunger for control at any cost, it is near impossible for those on the ground to be honest about the images before their eyes, while they remain in rebel held territory.



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