Libya 'mass grave' discovered as seven bodies are exhumed

More than 250 bodies have been found in farming town of Tarhuna since June 2020

A mass grave was found on Sunday in a "public waste dump" in Libya, with seven bodies exhumed, the North African country's missing persons authority said on Monday.

The unidentified bodies were found in the western town of Tarhuna, where scores of corpses have been discovered in mass graves in recent years, authorities said.

More than 250 bodies have been found in the farming town since June 2020, when mass graves were discovered following the withdrawal of forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The eastern Libya-based military chief had spent a year trying to seize the capital Tripoli, 80 kilometres north-west of Tarhuna.

Tarhuna was controlled for years by the Kaniyat militia, run by six brothers from the Kani family who imposed their dominance by slaughtering opponents and their families.

For a time, the group sided with Tripoli-based militias, but when Haftar launched his assault to seize the capital, the clan switched sides and offered him Tarhuna as a rear base.

When Haftar's forces were repelled, the Kani brothers disappeared. Some are believed killed, others to be in hiding.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into years of chaos and lawlessness following a 2011 Nato-backed uprising that led to the removal and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Dozens of militias took advantage of the power vacuum.

Tensions remain high in Libya, where two rival prime ministers are vying for power.

Updated: August 23, 2022, 6:00 AM