What seems beyond doubt is that they were executed. The bodies were all lined up on the hotel lawn and there are no signs of a gun battle other than the spent cartridges from AK-47 and FN-1 rifles.
The identity of the killers is only slightly less certain. They left a calling card -- dozens of graffiti slogans claiming the hotel for the Nimr Katiba (Tiger Brigade) from Misrata, the same brigade that captured and killed Qaddafi on Thursday.
The Tiger Brigade has controlled the Mahari hotel since early October and lost two of its top leaders in the fierce fighting over the hotel.
“This is the revenge of Misrata,” says Hamali. Misrata is a coastal city to the north that withstood a six-month long siege by Qaddafi's troops.
Downtown Sirte was a ghost town on Monday. The fighting here was fierce, but it doesn’t explain why not a single house seems to have been left untouched.
Haj Otman Belhaj, a rebel commander from a different Misrata fighting group, says: “We would destroy a building if there was a pro-Qaddafi sniper holed up in it. But the Tiger Brigade, they would just blow up buildings for the hell of it.”
On Dubai Street, Sirte’s main drag, a young man in a red hoodie strikes a lonely figure amidst the devastation. Every single building is riddled with bullets and grenade holes, and the entire street is flooded.
“My name is Qaddafi,” he says, referring to the tribe that Muammar Qaddafi belonged to.
“I returned three days ago with my brothers. We were among the last ones out; we were the first to come back in. We had no choice; we were living in tents in the desert.”