The five mutilated bodies were found in a water tank just off the main road between Zintan, the area’s main town, and Al-Qawalish, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
The identity of the men, one of whom had been decapitated, remains unknown.
The mutilated corpses were clad in green uniforms of a kind worn by troops loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Rebel commanders asked to comment on the find claimed that the men were most probably killed by Gaddafi’s forces while attempting to defect. However, after the discovery was reported to local authorities, the area was flattened by bulldozers and the corpses went missing.
The incident has heightened concerns that Libyan rebels may be abusing human rights in four towns they seized in the Nafusa Mountains in the North-West of the country. Human Rights Watch reported that in the past month, Libyan rebels have looted and damaged property, burnt homes and beaten individuals alleged to have supported government forces there.
The rebel military commander in the Nafusa Mountains, Colonel El-Moktar Firnana, has admitted that some abuses occurred after the rebels captured the towns.
Nevertheless, Firnana said such attacks violated orders issued to the rebel forces not to attack civilians or damage civilian property, adding that some of the offenders had been punished.
“If we had not issued directives, people would have burned these towns down to the ground,” the colonel told Human Rights Watch.
Crimes committed by the rebels are being swept under the carpet to support NATO's cause in the region, says Sukant Chandan, a spokesman for the British Civilians For Peace in Libya movement.
“Fundamentally, there has been a problem in the way the NATO nations and their media have portrayed these so-called rebels. These rebels have been conducting mass lynches of black people throughout the first several weeks and months of this crisis,” the activist told RT, adding that the question has been raised several times at press conferences, but has not been answered.