Iraq Unearths 300 Bodies From Mass Grave South of Baghdad

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Iraqi authorities say they have unearthed about 300 bodies from a mass grave discovered south of the capital, Baghdad, earlier this month.

A reporter for the VOA Kurdish service visited the grave site near the Iraqi town of Diwaniyah on Wednesday, accompanying a delegation of Iraqi lawmakers. He says Iraqi authorities told him that excavation teams have recovered about 300 bodies from the grave since its discovery on July 6.

Iraq's human rights ministry previously reported that 222 bodies had been extracted at the site, including remains of men, women and children.

The Iraqi ministry said the victims appeared to be ethnic Kurds who were killed by the forces of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 1987. Authorities said the remains would be transferred to a facility in the southern city of Najaf for forensic analysis.

Rights groups say Saddam's forces killed hundreds of thousands of people in crackdowns on Iraq's minority Kurds and majority Sh'ites during his 24-year rule that ended with a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The groups say the victims were buried in hundreds of mass graves across Iraq.