The New York Times reports:
As the fighting died down in Tripoli on Friday, the scope and savagery of the violence during the nearly weeklong battle for control of the capital began to come into sharper focus.
Amnesty International said Friday that it had evidence that forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had killed rebels who had been held in custody in two camps. In one camp, it said, guards killed five detainees held in solitary confinement, and in another they opened the gates, telling the rebels they were free to go, then tossed grenades and fired on the men as they tried to run for freedom.
The report, based on accounts from escaped prisoners, cited no death toll, but said that of the 160 detainees attacked, only 23 were known to have escaped.
On Thursday, there were reports that the bullet-riddled bodies of more than 30 pro-Qaddafi fighters had been found at a military encampment in central Tripoli. At least two were bound with plastic handcuffs, suggesting that they had been executed, and five of the dead were found at a field hospital.
More bodies turned up in the streets on Friday, where occasional volleys of gunfire were heard. Near Colonel Qaddafi’s abandoned citadel, Bab al-Aziziya, rebels began hauling away nine bloated bodies. The face of one was so badly decayed it appeared charred.
Maggots crawled over the torso of another.
“Only a butcher could commit a massacre like this,” said Sami Omar, a rebel.
Six were dumped near a trash receptacle, two left under a stairwell and one thrown in a large ditch, his hands apparently cuffed.
Rebels said Qaddafi loyalists had killed them as they celebrated his fall. But one resident said they were his fighters, slain by rebels.
As he spoke, a rebel approached him, saying he was not authorized to speak.
In a sign of the intensity of the fighting this week in the capital, 40 bodies, many in advanced states of decomposition, were piled up in an abandoned hospital in the Abu Salim neighborhood, until Friday the preserve of the Qaddafi forces. Most of the fighters were darker skinned than most Libyans, a sign, rebels there said, that they may have been recruited from sub-Saharan Africa. The rebels have frequently accused the Qaddafi government of using mercenaries but have not offered convincing proof.
The halls of the hospital were a chaos of beds and unplugged machines, and its floors were painted with blood. A medical technician said that three doctors had been on duty during the fighting in recent days, and that they had been unable to cope.
It was difficult to ascertain the fates of the dead men, who were lying on gurneys nested by maggots in a hospital room and the morgue. The relatives of one victim, Abdul Raouf Al Rashdi, a 33-year-old police officer, said he had been killed by a sniper several days earlier in the Hay Andalus neighborhood.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Libyan rebels pushed Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces out of the last residential neighborhood in Tripoli overnight Friday, but the rebel military gains were overshadowed by rapidly deteriorating living conditions in the capital of about two million people.
The challenges of restoring life to Tripoli grow more daunting by the day. Streets are buried under a mix of trash, waste and, in several places, corpses. Water and electricity have been cut throughout much of the city.
But the rebels’ victory in the Abu Salim neighborhood has made the area safe enough for city residents and journalists to visit its notorious Abu Salim prison for the first time.
A 1996 inmate massacre at the prison has fired up Libya’s opposition for years. A protest on Feb. 15 in Benghazi by families of victims of that massacre, and their lawyers, kicked off the countrywide protests that launched six months of fighting that this week unseated Col. Gadhafi.
The rebels’ national governing body, the National Transitional Council, is just beginning to relocate from its eastern base in Benghazi to Tripoli. Opposition leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil will remain in Benghazi until the capital is deemed secure.
Tripoli was cloaked in darkness Friday night, the first time it has been largely without power since rebels stormed into the capital Sunday. City faucets were dry for a second straight day.
In hospital morgues, bodies are piled on top of each other on available floor space. As rebels claim corpses of their own ranks, bodies of what appear to be pro-Gadhafi fighters are left on the streets in the summer heat. In some places, the smell suffocates whole blocks.
Luke Harding reports:
Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) gave its first press conference in Tripoli on Thursday evening. It was a chaotic late-night affair; so far nobody has had much of a chance to sketch out a new political system. On Friday, however, the marchers [in new Libya’s first political march] agreed that after 42 years of dictatorship and iron-fisted personalist rule the country should become a European-style democracy.
“I want to live in a democratic country. It’s the most important thing for me and my children,” Naser al-Shahawi said, emerging from the [Jamal Abdul Nasser] mosque. “This is what the people want. We also want an Islamic country. But I don’t think that democracy is an enemy of Islam.”
The 48-year-old international lawyer said he wasn’t greatly impressed by the NTC – pointing out that several of its leaders “had been with Gaddafi”.
Who, then, did he think could be Libya’s new prime minister? “Maybe me,” he replied. “Now is the first time that anybody can be prime minister, or president.” Then he admitted: “I have never voted in my life.”
Shahawi, who had spent a year and half living in Cardiff, said he was studying for a PhD in international law. Asked what should happen to Gaddafi when justice eventually caught up with him, he was brutally succinct.
“He should die,” he said, then insisted that the former dictator should be tried inside the country, rather than extradited to the international criminal court, where a heap of indictments await.
A group of fighters then expressed their feelings in verbal form: “Fuck you Gaddafi,” they shouted.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported:
Rebel units were massing for an attack on Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace, on Friday after Nato warplanes conducted intensive bombing raids to weaken one of the last major redoubts controlled by the ousted regime.
On the road to Sirte from Misrata, tanks, heavy artillery and rocket launchers abandoned by fleeing government forces were being assembled for the attack.
Rebels said a British and French special forces team was helping co-ordinate the assault, in which Misrata-based units will push eastwards to meet forces from Benghazi fighting their way westwards.