Eight mass graves were found in the western city of Tarhuna, the last stronghold of warlord Khalifa Haftar before it was liberated by the Libyan army last week.

A member of security forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government points to a mass grave, according to Libya's Internationally recognised government officials, in Tarhouna city in Libya on June 11, 2020.
A member of security forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government points to a mass grave, according to Libya's Internationally recognised government officials, in Tarhouna city in Libya on June 11, 2020. (Reuters)

The United Nations voiced "horror" after reports of the discovery of eight mass graves in an area recently seized by the unity government after the militia of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar withdrew.

Several presumed mass graves have been discovered near Tarhouna, southeast of the capital Tripoli, since it was seized back by forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord on June 5.

"International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective & transparent investigations into all alleged cases of unlawful deaths," the UN added.

The director of Tarhuna's public hospital, Aburawi al Buzeidi, said 160 bodies were discovered in the morgue by GNA forces upon their arrival in the city.

The bodies "were transferred to Tripoli and Misrata by the Red Crescent," he told journalists, giving no further details on the bodies.

UNSMIL also welcomed a decision on Thursday by the justice minister to establish a committee to investigate the finds.

"We call on its members to promptly undertake the work aimed at securing the mass graves, identifying the victims, establishing causes of death & returning the bodies to next of kin," it said.

Following the ousting of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political agreement.

The government, however, has been under attack by Haftar’s militia since April 2019. 

While France, Egypt, Russia, and UAE support Haftar, directly or indirectly, Turkey and Italy have shown solidarity with the UN-recognised, legitimate government representing the will of the Libyan people.

Haftar’s illegal militia in eastern Libya has launched numerous attacks to capture Tripoli, the nation’s capital, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies