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Libya urged to search for mass graves in Tarhuna

January 11, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Forensic officials conduct excavation works at a mass grave in Tarhunah, Libya on 7 November 2020 [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Libya’s United Nations-backed government was urged on Thursday to investigate the deaths of hundreds of people in Tarhuna, an agricultural town 45 miles southeast of the Libyan capital, which a family of lion owning brothers controlled, Human Rights Watch reports.

Hundreds of the town’s residents were abducted or reported missing between 2014 and 2020, HRW said.

“Families in Tarhouna whose loved ones went missing face a difficult time moving forward with their lives,” said Hanan Salah, senior Libya researcher at Human Rights Watch.

At least 338 residents of Tarhuna were reported missing after the local Al-Kani militia, known as Kaniyat, took control of the town in 2015, the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord-linked Public Authority for Search and Identification of Missing Persons said.

The GNA has been battling warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

On 23 October, the warring parties agreed on a ceasefire under UN mediation to pave the way for a political dialogue and settlement. However, Haftar militias have regularly breached the agreement.

On Saturday, a new mass grave was discovered in the city.

In July, the Public Authority for Search and Identification of Missing Persons announced that 226 bodies had been found in mass graves in Tarhuna since 5 June. Months later, in September, another mass grave was located containing the bodies of five people.

READ: 4 bodies exhumed from new mass grave in Libya’s Tarhuna