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Amnesty International says Libyan fighters committing war crimes with impunity

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CAIRO — Amnesty International said rival militias and armed groups in Western Libya are committing "mounting war crimes" with impunity.

In a new report released Thursday, it accused fighters of having complete disregard for civilian lives, saying militants have fired GRAD rockets and artillery into civilian neighborhoods.

"In today's Libya the rule of the gun has taken hold. Armed groups and militias are running amok, launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas and committing widespread abuses, including war crimes, with complete impunity," Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said in a statement.

 Libya is mired in its worst turmoil since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with the country deeply fractured and having two rival governments. The fighting is part of a nationwide power struggle between Islamist-backed militias, which have seized control of most of Tripoli, including its international airport, and their opponents, which back an internationally-recognized government based in the country's far east.

The report said members of the Islamist-backed Libyan Dawn coalition and their opponents in the Zintan-Warshafana coalition are among the armed groups that have committed "gross abuses of human rights."

It also says "scores of civilians have been abducted by armed groups....in a spate of tit-for-tat attacks." Tripoli residents say Libyan Dawn militias "have carried out door-to-door 'manhunts' to seize people based on their tribal affiliation or presumed political allegiances," the report said.

Many abductees told Amnesty they were tortured or ill-treated, the report said.

Amnesty also released satellite images showing civilian structures destroyed by the rival militias.

Earlier this month, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement that attacks targeting rights advocates in Western Libya amount to "war crimes."

The U.N. estimates that violence has displaced 287,000 people across Libya.

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