- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2011

Troops loyal to longtime Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi massacred more than 180 prisoners at two locations south of Tripoli this week, according to eyewitnesses and a survivor.

The incidents took place on Tuesday and Wednesday as rebels overran Col. Gadhafi’s fortified compound, Bab al-Azizia, in Tripoli and closed in on other regime strongholds.

Eyewitnesses and a survivor told The Washington Times that pro-Gadhafi troops lobbed grenades and shot the prisoners.

One incident took place at the site of a Brazilian construction company, which had been contracted by the regime to build the new Ring Road around Tripoli. The men had been detained in a hangar, a cinderblock building with a metal roof.

About 70 men were detained at this makeshift prison in Guser Bin Gashir around 12 miles south of Tripoli.

Early on Wednesday morning, guards dragged six men, including two doctors, from solitary confinement and executed them with their Kalashnikovs, according to accounts.

Mahmoud Okok, a 29-year-old engineer who had been detained at this site, told The Times that he and the other detainees panicked when they realized that the guards were planning to execute them all. They managed to break out of the prison. The five guards fled.

Two of Mr. Okok’s friends, both engineers, were among the six men executed at Guser Bin Gashir.

A day earlier, at another site in a military camp in Khilit al-Ferjan in southwestern Tripoli, guards lobbed grenades at around 200 prisoners. Eyewitnesses said 182 people had died in that incident.

The prisoners included men from Zliten and Misrata, both located on the Mediterranean coast in the western part of Libya.

Both the detention facilities were used by the 32nd Brigade, which is led by Col. Gadhafi’s Russian-trained son Khamis Gadhafi.

Mr. Okok was arrested in May on suspicion of giving coordinates of the regime’s targets to NATO. The Western alliance has been providing air support to the rebels in their fight against the regime.

He was tortured while in detention. His captors clipped jumper cables to his ears and plugged the other end into a power socket sending powerful jolts of electricity through his body. They then whipped him with copper cables.

Mohammed, a rebel spokesman in Tripoli who only gave his first name, said a close friend of his was among those who died after being tortured by the regime’s loyalists at one of the detention sites.

It is a war crime to kill or torture prisoners.

In Tripoli on Friday, rebels were in control of the Abu Saleem neighborhood a day after engaging in a fierce gunbattle with pro-Gadhafi forces. Residents in the vicinity of the apartment complex where the bloody fight took place said bodies of black fighters littered the streets.

The rebels claim Col. Gadhafi brought in black African mercenaries to fight them.

Rebels were fighting snipers along the airport road in the city. “We are dealing with the situation,” one rebel told The Times on the condition of anonymity.

Some members of the rebels’ National Transitional Council have arrived in Tripoli and are working to secure the city and essential services. There was no water in most of Tripoli on Friday.

Regime loyalists in Col. Gadhafi’s tribal stronghold Sirte continued to put up stiff resistance to the rebels’ advance in the town of Bin Jawad.  

A team of rebel negotiators planned to talk to the heads of tribes in Sirte, the southern city of Sebha and Al Jufra to work out a peaceful solution.  

“We will not be taking over by force,” said Mohamed, the rebel spokesman in Tripoli.

Support in Sirte is split almost evenly between the regime and the rebels. Those with the regime are seeking assurances that they will not be harmed if the rebels are allowed to control the city.

The rebels have detained regime loyalists at the Mitiga airport in Tripoli.

On Thursday, an International Organization for Migration ship evacuated about 800 foreign nationals from Tripoli.

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