Libya: mass grave with 18 bodies found in former IS stronghold

Libyan authorities say they have found 18 bodies buried in a mass grave in the central coastal city of Sirte, a former stronghold of the Islamic State group in the conflict-ridden North African country.

CAIRO — Libyan authorities said on Sunday they found 18 bodies buried in a mass grave in a former Islamic State group stronghold along the coast of the conflict-ridden North African nation.

The Missing Persons Authority said in a statement that the bodies were dug up in the Sabaa neighborhood of Sirte, a city in central Libya. The bodies were taken to a local hospital, he added.

Sirte, the birthplace of longtime former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, fell under the control of Islamic State militants between 2015 and 2016. The militants, along with al-Qaeda, gained a foothold in oil-rich Libya in the amid the chaos that engulfed the country after the 2011 uprising and NATO intervention in the conflict.

The militants were eventually driven out of the city in December 2016 by US-backed Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli. Hundreds of suspected former Islamic State fighters remain in Libyan prisons, many awaiting trial.

Since the overthrow and assassination of Gaddafi, Libya has been divided between rival authorities. Sirte is now controlled by forces loyal to military leader Khalifa Hifter based in the east of the country.

In its statement, the Missing Persons Authority said it collected samples of dead bones in an effort to identify the bodies. More details on the cause of death of those found were not provided.

Several mass graves have recently been discovered across Libya. In October, officials said they found 42 bodies in a mass grave at the site of a school in Sirte.

In December 2018, the bodies of more than thirty men were discovered near Sirte, believed to be the corpses of a group of Ethiopian Christians who were executed by Islamic State fighters in a video released by the group years earlier. .

In the western city of Tarhuna, hundreds of corpses were discovered on several graves after militia fighters loyal to Hifter retreated from the area in June 2020.


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