Tripoli, Aug 28: Rebel forces mopping up the last remnants of Gaddafi regime resistance in Tripoli have discovered a warehouse containing the charred skeletons of scores of prisoners killed and burned as troops fled, The Telegraph reports.
Residents who live nearby the site, near the southern Tripoli headquarters of Libya's most feared military unit, the Khamis Brigade, loyal to Col Gaddafi's youngest son, say they heard the sounds of shooting and explosions on Tuesday evening.
They were unable to leave their homes to investigate while fighting in the area continued, but on Friday night rebel forces captured the base and drove out the remaining fighters. Yesterday morning, residents and rebel forces moved in to discover the still-warm remains of at least 53 people.
Eight bodies, hands bound, had been left decomposing outside the shed. Inside, the remainder had been burned as they lay, the canisters of petrol still lying in the corners among the bodies, which were still warm.
Locals told The Telegraph that up to 150 people were thought to have been killed there.
The horrific find, which could add to evidence in any future war crimes prosecution of the Libyan leader, came as Libyan rebels admitted that they had no concrete information on where he might be hiding.
"We have no factual report about the whereabouts of Gaddafi and his sons," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council, told a news conference last night.
One possible bolthole for Gaddafi was his home city of Sirte, some 300 miles east of Tripoli, which remains in the hands of government loyalists. Guerrilla fighters from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya have been advancing towards the city in recent days, but have so far got only as far as the edge of Bin Jawad, a town around 100 miles away.
Fawzi Bukatif, a rebel commander, said attempts to persuade the Sirte loyalists to surrender had so far been fruitless. "We are waiting for the people in Sirte to come out and talk but we've got no answer up to now," he said.
With rebel forces approaching Sirte from the west as well, Gaddafi loyalists could retreat into the desert and try to reach Sabha, another Gaddafi stronghold far to the south.
"If they pull south to Sabha, we'll follow them. We're determined to clear the whole country," said Mr Bukatif.
Rebels hunting Gaddafi say the war will not end until the 69-year-old colonel is captured or killed.
Egypt's state news agency sparked a new round of speculation when it quoted a Libyan rebel source as saying a convoy of six armoured Mercedes cars which crossed from Libya into Algeria may have been carrying Gaddafi. An Algerian government spokesman denied that there had been any such convoy.
The NTC, which has told its fighters not to carry out revenge killings, is trying to assert its authority and restore order in Tripoli but its top officials have yet to move there from their Benghazi headquarters in the east.
The capital was gripped by growing humanitarian difficulties with some parts experiencing their fifth day without water. Power was again interrupted across much of Tripoli.
"There are widespread shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies, particularly in the Nafusa Mountains and Tripoli," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York.
Tripoli's supply problems have worsened, even though Mr Abdel Jalil said on Thursday his forces had discovered huge stockpiles of food and medicine in the capital that would eliminate any shortfalls.
The rebels were still struggling to reopen the main route between Tripoli and neighbouring Tunisia, a vital supply line for oil and food. The Libyan-Tunisian border post at Ras el-Jedir has been recaptured, but pro-Gaddafi forces were shelling the road near Zawara, about 35 miles east of the frontier.
Britain said it would provide urgent humanitarian support including medical help, food and other basic supplies for people affected by the conflict in Libya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced yesterday.
Surgical teams would help treat up to 5,000 war-wounded patients, he said, while aid would be provided food for nearly 690,000 people made homeless by the fighting.