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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Bahrainis missing in Iraq 'dead'
Shrine of Imam Ali, Najaf
Many Bahrainis students and pilgrims used to go to Iraq
A number of Bahraini citizens who have been missing in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War have been declared dead by a committee investigating their fate.

Nine were Shia students in their 20s, who were last heard of in the holy city of Najaf.

They are believed to have been killed when Saddam Hussein's forces put down a failed Shia revolt.

The 10th was a Bahraini businessman who was believed to have been seized by Saddam Hussein's forces after they invaded Kuwait, and later taken to Iraq.

"We have general evidence that makes us believe strongly that they passed away," said Jawad Asfoor, president of the National Committee for the Missing Bahrainis in Iraq.

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Although there was no physical evidence of the deaths, Mr Asfoor said a delegation who travelled to Najaf last month had been given "reliable eyewitness accounts".

There was also evidence of mass killings by Iraqi security forces.

Since coalition forces went into Iraq in March, several mass graves have been found near Najaf and other Iraqi cities.

Those buried in the mass graves are thought to include people who were killed just after the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein crushed a Shia uprising.

Thousands of Iraqis were believed to have been killed at the time.

Mr Asfoor said witnesses told his delegation the nine Bahraini students were seized during the uprising and taken to a detention centre and later into the desert where they were killed and buried.

Kuwaitis wait

The 10 are thought to be the only Bahrainis missing in Iraq who were unaccounted for.

Relatives touch the coffin of a Kuwait POW whose remains were found in a mass grave in southern Iraq
For some Kuwaitis there has finally been news of their missing relatives
However the fate of around 600 Kuwaitis who went missing during the invasion by Iraqi forces remains unclear.

The government of Saddam Hussein had denied all knowledge of their whereabouts.

Since the former president was toppled, remains of some of the missing Kuwaitis have been found in mass graves.

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