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Libyan rebels, Ghadafi forces torture, execute prisoners

TRIPOLI, Libya — Evidence emerged Friday that Moammar Gadhafi's retreating forces executed scores or even hundreds of political prisoners this week, as victorious rebel fighters appear to have carried out their own abuses.

Survivors of an attack by pro-Gadhafi troops said they had watched as fellow prisoners were mowed down by machine-gun fire, minutes after being told they were free.

But Gadhafi loyalists were also targets of apparent extrajudicial killings. Those deaths have cast a dark shadow over Libya's newfound freedom and call into question whether the rebels will break with Gadhafi's blood-soaked style of governance or merely mimic it.

"In Tripoli, we are seeing the same pattern in recent days that we saw earlier in the east," said Diana Eltahawy, Libya researcher for Amnesty International. She described a record of abuse, torture and the extrajudicial killing of captured pro-Gadhafi fighters that has followed the rebels from east to west as they have taken over the country.

In the wreckage of a Tripoli fire station and field hospital on Friday, five fighters loyal to Gadhafi lay in agony and blood, apparently left to die. They had been without food, water or medical attention for two days.

Rebel fighters patrolling the compound knew the men were there, but scarcely seemed to care. "We would take them to the hospital, but there are no hospitals," said Salah Mansoor, a law school graduate and shopkeeper. "There are no cars to take them," he added, as a taxi cruised by.

A few minutes' drive from the fire station, at least 15 bodies, most of them Gadhafi's black African supporters, lay rotting in the sun at a traffic junction outside his Bab al-Aziziyah complex. Several of the dead wore green pieces of cloth wrapped around their wrists to signal loyalty to the Gadhafi regime.

Hunt for Gadhafi

On Friday, rebels fought isolated pockets of resistance in Tripoli as Libyan special forces hunted for Moammar Gadhafi and his sons after clearing one of his loyalists' last major strongholds in the capital. The streets of Tripoli were largely deserted except for rebel fighters manning checkpoints. Abdul Majid Mgleta, a rebel commander, said he expected the rebels to mop up the last remaining pockets of resistance in Tripoli within 72 hours and said he hoped to capture Gadhafi in a similar time frame.

Libyan rebels, Ghadafi forces torture, execute prisoners 08/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 11:21pm]
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