Atrocities and lack of supplies strain Tripoli (VIDEO)
In Tripoli, human rights workers and locals are uncovering evidence of mass killings by Muammar Qaddafi's retreating army. Meanwhile, water distribution and other basic services are in disarray.
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According to neighbors and at least one survivor, those killed were civilians arrested at government checkpoints in the past few days and executed by retreating Qaddafi troops.Skip to next paragraph
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Water supply cut off. Qaddafi's revenge?
Many areas of Tripoli are now considered safe, however, and rebel leaders and international organizations are turning to the task of restoring public services and the flow of supply for residents.
The International Organization for Migration on Saturday brought food, medical supplies, and water, and took away a second boatload of refugees – bringing the total number of refugees who have fled Libya since February to nearly 670,000.
There are many rumors about why the water supply to the capital was cut off.
According to Faraj Saleh Eltayef, minister in charge of capacity building in the interim government, the rebel authority had intended to cut off the water supply to the capital at Gasr Ben Geshir, east of the city, because of a persistent rumor that the defeated regime had poisoned the water.
“But when we got there, we found that the water supply had already been cut off at El Hassouni, 500 km (310 miles) south of Tripoli,” says Mr. Eltayef.
If true, it would have been Qaddafi’s ultimate revenge. Drinking water for Libya’s main cities is provided by his pet project, the Great Man-Made River, a
$20 billion initiative 26 years in the making that funnels water from below the Sahara desert to the coastal cities.
At a press conference at Tripoli’s Radisson hotel Sunday, however, Information minister Mohammed Shammam dismissed the rumors of sabotage and said the water shortage was due to “technical difficulties” and would soon be resolved.
Fuel costs $20 per gallon
Fuel prices, meanwhile, have skyrocketed to about $20 per gallon – 28 times higher than before the fighting broke out, according to the Associated Press.
Mr. Shammam said that a shipment of 30,000 metric tons of fuel was being distributed Saturday, and expressed hope that the Zawiya refinery would start up again, the AP reported.
At the Radisson press conference, Shammam and the other officials responded to nearly every question about the difficulties of the transition with, “We’re working on it.”
But when he was asked about Qaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim’s phone call to the AP’s New York offices, in which he offered to facilitate talks with Qaddafi, Shamman left no doubt.
“These are criminals fleeing from justice. There will be no negotiations. We will not talk to these people; we will arrest them,” he said.