Libya massacre site discovered near Tripoli

CBC reporters in Libya have seen first-hand the charred remains of dozens of people killed in a suspected massacre near one of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi's military camps.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images and details

CBC reporters in Libya have seen first-hand the charred remains of dozens of people killed in a suspected massacre near one of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi's military camps.

"It is the most grisly sight," the CBC's Susan Ormiston reported on Sunday from Tripoli after she and CBC reporter Derek Stoffel visited the building south of the capital.

Ormiston said they were told 153 people were inside the small warehouse behind one of Gadhafi's military complexes when the alleged massacre occurred on Aug. 22.

"We are told, as the opposition forces were moving in, Gadhafi's troops first fired on soldiers on this group of prisoners held inside this building, then threw in grenades, effectively incinerating them," she said.

Stoffel said there had been rumours circulating the last few days of crimes commited during the battle for the capital city.

"With the battle almost over, we are uncovering horrible scenes in hospitals, prisons and even out in the open on the streets," he said.

On Sunday morning, Ormiston and Stoffel drove close to the military compound where reporters had heard of the latest allegations of atrocities.

"When we arrived at what looked like a commercial area just off a main road, Libyan men were walking around, covering their faces with cloths and shirts — anything they could find," Stoffel said.

The charred remains of dozens of Libyans were discovered inside this building south of Tripoli. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

He counted the charred remains of at least 26 men.

"Their blackened skulls and spines were all you could see," Stoffel said. "The stench was overpowering. Some had to leave the room, choking."

The enemies of Gadhafi's regime had been brought there for allegedly helping the opposition during the uprising, Libyans told Ormiston.

Bashir, a man who said he was held prisoner there for 95 days, told CBC News that as rebels approached the makeshift jail last Monday, pro-Gadhafi men threw several grenades into the building.

They also unloaded their automatic weapons, shooting many of those being held in the building, he said.

'It was my fate': survivor

Bashir said he escaped only because the men ran out of bullets. He ran away, along with 19 others, as the pro-Gadhafi troops went to retrieve more ammunition.

The body of a man who was apparently shot trying to escape lies near a prison south of Libya on Sunday. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

The soldiers then allegedly burned the building.

"It was my fate" to escape, Bashir said. He pointed toward the burned out warehouse and said: "This is the price we pay for freedom. For Libya."

Another survivor, Mabrouk Abdullas, told The Associated Press that he and other prisoners were told by a guard they would be released Tuesday. Instead, guards threw hand grenades and opened fire on about 130 detainees.

Abdullah said he had been crouching along a wall and was shot in his side. He said that as survivors of the initial attack tried to flee, they came under fire again.

Human rights groups accuse both sides in Libya of abuses against detainees.

Human Rights Watch on Sunday said it has evidence suggesting that the regime's forces went on a killing rampage of detainees as anti-Gadhafi forces overran Tripoli last week.

Ormiston said that the discovery could impact on Gadhafi's war crimes accusations if the leader is ever captured. The International Criminal Court had previously issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi for crimes against humanity.

CBC's Derek Stoffel counted at least 26 bodies among the charred remains. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

With files from The Associated Press