As fighting between rebels and loyalists continues to rage in Libya--whether in central Tripoli, the Tripoli airport, or Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte--there's a troubling story line emerging in the capital: reports of abandoned bodies of people who appear to have been summarily executed rather than killed by battlefield injuries. The New York Times points out that these reports are increasing "as reporters are able to enter ever wider swathes of the sprawling capital."
On Thursday, a Reuters correspondent discovered bullet-riddled bodies of Qaddafi soldiers at a military encampment in central, including two who had their hands bound with plastic handcuffs and one in a nearby ambulance "strapped to a gurney with an intravenous drip in his arm." Meanwhile, a British medical worker said a hospital had received the bodies of 17 civilians thought to have been executed by government forces at a prison near Qaddafi's compound. One survivor at the hospital claimed that prison guards had opened fire on him and other inmates as the rebels stormed the capital. The Daily Telegraph, citing a survivor, is reporting today that 180 civilian prisoners--including seven children-- were killed by Qaddafi forces earlier this week at a military base in Tripoli's suburbs, while Amnesty International is reporting abuses by both sides in the conflict, including a charge that the rebels have detained and beaten black African migrants suspected of being Qaddafi mercenaries.
U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told Reuters that he can't confirm the allegations but that the Commission of Inquiry on Libya will investigate the incidents. He urged "all those in positions of authority in Libya" to "ensure that no crimes, or acts of revenge, are committed" and noted that international rights monitors support the $1.7 million bounty on Qaddafi's head if it leads to an arrest and trial of the missing Libyan leader. "If it provokes an extra-judicial killing or execution we have a major problem because it would be a serious international crime," he stated. Ibrahim Al-Dredi, Libya's ambassador in Geneva, informed Reuters that rebel leaders are instructing their fighters "not to kill anybody, not to harm anybody, unless it's a combat situation," adding, "I don't think they will kill prisoners."
In another report today from Tripoli Central Hospital, the Times has noticed at least one other body with hands bound, "although it was unclear which side he fought for or whether he had been wounded before he was bound." Al Jazeera has also posted a shocking video report from Abu Salim trauma hospital in Tripoli (warning: the footage is very graphic and disturbing):