Human Rights Watch has accused troops loyal to the Libyan National Army of carrying out mass executions in the town of Abyar. The rights group said in a report on Wednesday that local police discovered the bodies of 36 men in late October. All had been executed near the main road southeast of Abyar, 50 km east of Benghazi.
According to the watchdog, the authorities took the bodies to the hospital, where families identified them. “The men were arrested on different dates by armed groups loyal to the national army in Benghazi or other areas under its control,” said relatives of the victims.
The report pointed out that the incident came after a series of unlawful killings and illegal executions in Benghazi, which led the International Criminal Court prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant against a commander in the National Army Special Forces on 15 August. After the discovery of the bodies in Abyar, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the National Army, ordered the military prosecutor in the Eastern Province to open an investigation but neither the army nor the prosecutor have announced any results yet.
“The Libyan National Army’s pledges to conduct inquiries into repeated unlawful killings in areas under their control in eastern Libya have so far led nowhere,” explained Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The LNA will be condoning apparent war crimes if their pledge to investigate the gruesome discovery in Abyar proves to be another empty promise.”
Libya has suffered from armed conflict, insecurity and political division since May 2014 when Haftar declared war on terrorism in Benghazi.