Libya’s Missing Persons Authority announced Sunday the discovery of 42 bodies buried in a mass grave in the central coastal city of Sirte, a former stronghold of the ousted Islamic State group.
In a statement, the authority’s spokesperson said the 42 bodies had been exhumed from a school site in the city following a “tip off” from an investigation conducted with captured Islamic State fighters.
Sirte, the birthplace of former longtime dictator Muammar Gadhafi, fell under Islamic State control between 2015 and 2016, as the extremist group sought to profit from the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich nation since the fallout of the 2011 revolution.
The Islamist group were eventually expelled from the city in December 2016 by forces fighting for the former U.N.-backed Government of National Accord. Hundreds of alleged former Islamic State fighters remain incarcerated in Libyan prisons, many of whom are awaiting trial.
The spokesman for the Missing Persons Authority, Abdulaziz El Mabrouk, said all 42 bodies had since been transferred to a nearby hospital and that samples of their blood, teeth and bones were collected to identify the missing victims. A further 11 corpses were found near the same site in May, he added. No information was provided on the cause of death for any of the bodies.