Tripoli, Libya: War Crimes Claims After Hundreds Of Bodies Are Found At Hospital

27 Aug

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Video: Horror At Hospital As Gaddafi Still At Large

There are growing concerns about the humanitarian situation in Libya after hundreds of dead bodies were found in a hospital near Tripoli.

They were patients apparently abandoned in their beds at the Abu Salim building when fighting broke out last week.

Most of the victims were men and several had been shot, according to reports.

Witnesses described seeing dozens of decomposing bodies piled up in the building, with hundreds of corpses in one room.

It was unclear when the men died or who killed them, but reports said they had darker skin than most Libyans. Gaddafi had recruited fighters from sub-Saharan Africa.

Amid allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses, the UN has called on the international community to provide urgent humanitarian help.

Meanwhile, there has been mounting evidence that a daughter that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had claimed had been killed in a US air strike in 1986 is in fact alive and well.

Rebels searching the maze of underground tunnels at Col Gaddafi’s Bab al Aziziyah compound discovered a series of documents and photographs suggesting a bedroom belonged to Hana Gaddafi, a young doctor.

Col Gaddafi had claimed his daughter was killed, aged just six months, in an air strike ordered by Ronald Reagan in response to a terrorist attack on a West Berlin nightclub.

The Libyan leader regularly used the alleged killing to highlight to his people the threat posed by the West’s military aggression.

The news came as Britain announced it would fund surgical teams and medicines to help up to 5,000 wounded Libyans.

Food and household essentials will also be supplied to almost 690,000 others.

The assistance will be provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross with support from the Department for International Development .

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “As the conflict moves into its final stages there are many Libyans in need of urgent humanitarian help.”

Intense fighting in Libya is continuing as Col Gaddafi remains at large, despite Nato’s support for the hunt for the dictator.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox urged the Gaddafi regime to recognise that the “game is up” and called for it to stop attacking its own people.

But Dr Fox stressed it was “premature to assume” the fighting was over as strong pockets of resistance remained.

Nato and UK forces from RAF Marham launched an attack on a command and control bunker of the Gaddafi regime in Sirte.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) cabinet is pressing ahead with its hugely symbolic move from eastern stronghold Benghazi to Tripoli.

The NTC also received a boost as a deal was struck at the UN to release \$1.5bn of frozen Libyan assets.

Dr Fox said: “It’s still important that we remove the potential for the regime to counter-attack against the NTC and to continue to wage war on their people, but it is far too early yet to say what the security situation will be in the weeks ahead.”

He said it was the “primary responsibility” of the new government of Libya to request help from the UN if it wanted it.

NEWS UPDATE:

A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross ready to evacuate injured people from the general hospital in the restive Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli. The decomposing bodies of around 80 people were found in the hospital, apparently the unlucky victims of fighting that prevented the wounded from being treated, an AFP correspondent reported

A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross ready to evacuate injured …

An image of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi hangs on a wall looking down at the dead bodies lying in beds in the general hospital in the restive Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli. The decomposing bodies of around 80 people were found in the hospital, apparently the unlucky victims of fighting that prevented the wounded from being treated, an AFP correspondent reported

An image of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi hangs on a wall looking down at the dead …

When the 10-year-old boy was shot in the back outside Moamer Kadhafi’s compound in the Libyan capital, he could never have imagined the even worse horror that awaited him when he got to hospital.

For days he lay unattended, as the hospital had been commandeered by Kadhafi snipers, most of the medical staff had fled in fear, and people around him died by the scores for lack of treatment.

On Friday, he lay on a stretcher inside an ambulance, one of 17 survivors being evacuated by the Red Cross, in too much pain to talk.

His weeping parents were beside themselves amid the stench of dozens of decomposing bodies.

“My son was wounded outside Bab al-Aziziya, but we didn’t know where he had been taken,” his father said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him in five days. But today we have got him back.”

However long it might take the boy to recover from his wounds, he is likely to suffer nightmares about his time in the hospital for years to come.

Rebels had swarmed into the capital over the weekend and by Wednesday had seized control of most of Tripoli.

But the hospital is located in the generally pro-Kadhafi neighbourhood of Abu Slim, and loyalist snipers had held it since Saturday.

With the Kadhafi sharpshooters in control, ultimately no one could, or dared, come in or out.

Abu Slim saw fierce fighting for days, and it was only on Thursday that the hospital was secured.

As the days passed, many patients inside died, one after another.

The scene in the three-storey hospital was macabre.

Scores of putrefying corpses were lying all around, dead from lack of treatment.

On Friday, an AFP correspondent counted some 80 of them, though Mohammed Yunis, a medical-student-turned-nurse, said many more had already been removed.

“There have been hundreds of deaths (in Tripoli) in recent days,” he said, visibly shaken.

“It is a disaster,” he said. “There is no more medicine in the hospital, no more medical personnel. They all left for fear of the snipers.”

Without air conditioning, the survivors waited for days in the heat as the stench of decomposing and bloated bodies grew. The basement morgue was overflowing with corpses, and the air was virtually unbreathable.

Twenty bodies were piled on the grass in the garden outside, and one was still lying on a bloody gurney outside the emergency ward.

At the end of one corridor, spattered with blood and littered with empty water and medicine bottles and other debris, lay a ward with 25 bodies, the floor covered with a thin film of bodily fluids.

Abdel Abdel Rahman is one of just two nurses and one doctor who remained holed up in the hospital throughout the ordeal.

He does not remember how many people he saw die before his eyes — civilians, loyalist soldiers and rebels.

Without electricity, bandages, oxygen, medicines and other supplies, he said there was no way for three people to treat everyone.

Asked how felt, he said nothing.

As for the 17 survivors, a Red Cross worker said they would be taken to the capital’s central hospital, which is still functioning.

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