Libya’s new rulers have discovered two mass graves containing the bodies of as many as 900 people who had “died not long ago,” reporters on the scene said on Wednesday.
“Witness testimony has allowed us to uncover two mass graves of victims of the old regime,” Tripoli security chief Naji al-Issawi told a news conference in the Libyan capital.
A mass grave in Gargaresh, on the coast some seven kilometers (four miles) from the center of Tripoli, contained the bodies of about 200 people, Issawi said, thought to have died in the battles surrounding the rebel assault that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.
A second grave in Birasta Milad, a rural area 10 kilometers (six miles) from the city center contained an estimated 700, he added.
Journalists at the Gargaresh grave said that bodies seen had not died long ago judging by the lack of decomposition, AFP reported.
A pathologist told journalists at Gargaresh that at least two of the bodies had bullet wounds and around 20 had fractured skulls, reported AFP.
More than a dozen sites have been identified as mass graves since Qaddafi was toppled, including one at the capital’s Abu Salim prison, site of a 1996 massacre of about 1,200 people that became a rallying point against Qaddafi in the early days of the Libyan uprising.
On September 25, Libya’s new rulers said they had unearthed a mass grave of 1,700 prisoners at Abu Salim but two days later they announced that they were not certain about the find after reports emerged that some of the remains appeared to be of animals.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch has urged the National Transitional Council to halt excavations of such sites, warning that exhuming remains without proper forensic techniques could make it impossible to identify people buried in them.