Twenty eight bodies with bullet wounds and torture marks were discovered west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, Reuters reported on Monday.

The bodies were discovered on Saturday, in an area where clashes between rival armed factions recently took place, according to Libya’s National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR).

Ahmad Hamza from the NCHR said the bodies belonged to fighters who opposed government-aligned coalition forces. The men had been arrested before they were executed.

The corpses were found by locals alongside a road in the town of Alhira, 60 kilometres south-west of Tripoli.

Fighting broke out in the town, located in the Wershefana area last week when coalition forces nominally affiliated with the internationally-aligned government in Tripoli launched a military assault against rival armed groups, including loyalists of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

As of Sunday, the victims’ families had still not been allowed access to the bodies of the men.

“According to the fact-finding, monitoring and documentation section of NCHR, there are signs of torture and they were shot in the chest and head,” Hamza said.

The Wershafana region has been largely cut off from the capital for several years and has become notorious for violence and criminal activity.

The Zintan military council, which was responsible for the capture of Gadaffi’s son Saif Al Islam following the Libyan revolution in 2011 and which subsequently failed to hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) following their warrant for his arrest, confirmed it had participated in the campaign against the rival armed groups.

The council warned prior to taking part in the military assault that it planned to deal with “murder, kidnapping and acts of barbarism in the region”.

There was no immediate comment from the Zintan military council after the bodies were discovered.

However, the clashes resulted in the displacement of approximately 480 families, some of whom were subsequently able to return home.

Following the North African country’s revolution, as part of the Arab Spring in 2011, and the overthrow of Gadaffi, the country has been torn apart by rival militias supporting two opposing governments.

The resulting instability and unrest has made the country unsafe with many foreign embassies pulling out and oil production lowered in eastern parts of the country.

Libya is now also renowned for being dangerous for refugees who use it as a point of departure to Europe with many subjected to gross human rights abuses including torture and rape.

- African News Agency (ANA)