The Ministry of the Interior in Libya has described "mass executions" said to have been carried out by the militia led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar as "unprecedented" since the ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s.
According to the Ministry's Assistant Undersecretary for Security Affairs, Brigadier General Mohamed Al-Madaghi, "Since Tarhuna's liberation from gangs and militias, the media has broadcast painful and extremely cruel images of the victims who were thrown alive in deep wells and pitilessly buried in mass graves on farms." He made his comments during a press conference in Tripoli on Tuesday, following the discovery of mass graves in the city of Tarhuna, south-east of the capital.
"These mass executions, which are neither sanctioned by religion nor acceptable to mankind, targeted children and women, in brutality of a kind witnessed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina," explained Al-Madaghi. "The crimes committed by the aggressors are war crimes punishable by the judicial authorities in Libya and the world and dealt with by the International Court of Justice in The Hague."
The Libyan official stressed the need for "just retribution" so that "war criminals bear the consequences of their deeds against their people." The discovery of the mass graves, he insisted, will remain in the memory of the relatives of the victims and, indeed, all Libyans.
He revealed that at least 48 bodies have been recovered so far, as well as a number of body parts. The Ministry of the Interior is taking DNA samples to identify the victims.
At the same press conference, Libyan officials announced ongoing international efforts to establish a fact-finding committee to look into the violations of which Haftar's militia is accused. They include minefields as well as the mass executions and other violations.
The renegade Field Marshal's militia, backed by Arab and European countries, launched an assault to take the Libyan capital Tripoli on 4 April last year. Many civilians have been killed and injured in the fighting.
Recently, though, forces loyal to the Government of National Accord, supported by Turkey, have pushed the militia back and liberated areas around Tripoli, Tarhuna, cities along the West Coast, the strategic Al-Watiya Air Base and other areas.