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LIBYA: Infamous Kadafi prison claimed by rebels

August 24, 2011 |  1:03 pm

A spokesman for Libyan rebel forces said Wednesday that they had seized control of Moammar Kadafi's infamous Abu Salim prison south of Tripoli.

Fighting had been reported at the prison early Wednesday, with reports circulating online that rebel fighters had made their way inside the compound.

Late Wednesday, Al Arabiya television reported that Ahmed Bany, a spokesman for the rebels, said Abu Salim was under opposition control.

"Fighters are engaging the last pockets of resistance there," the report said.

The uprising against Kadafi can be traced back, at least in part, to Abu Salim.

Protests reportedly began after relatives of those killed in a prison massacre at Abu Salim about 15 years ago took to the streets in February, angered by the detention of Fathi Terbil, the lawyer who served as  their spokesman.

About 1,200 prisoners were killed at Abu Slim  on June 29, 1996, after they objected to prison conditions. The dead were buried in the prison courtyard and mass graves in Tripoli.

Days ago, witnesses tweeted about seeing a prison break at the facility.

Search for Kadafi goes on as rebels seize compound

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: About 1,200 prisoners were slain at Abu Slim prison near Tripoli in 1996, and protests by their families helped spark the uprising against Moammar Kadafi earlier this year. In March, Libyan women walked past pictures posted in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi showing men imprisoned or killed by Kadafi. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times.