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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 01:13 GMT 02:13 UK
Mass grave found in northern Iraq
Kurds demonstrate in Halabja demanding justice for the 1988 gas attack, July 2004
Kurds in Halabja want to see justice over the 1988 gas attack
Dozens of bodies have been discovered in a mass grave near the town of Halabja in northern Iraq.

The grave was uncovered during road building work in the Kurdish-dominated region of Sulaimaniya.

The then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's forces launched a chemical gas attack in Halabja in March 1988, killing about 5,000 Kurds in a single day.

Iraq's newly-established human rights ministry plans to send investigators to the site before the bodies are exhumed.

Thousands of Kurds were imprisoned, executed and tortured during Saddam Hussein's rule.

Saddam on trial

"This new discovery just adds to the crimes against the Kurds committed by the Saddam Hussein regime and will help investigators and the special court set up to try Saddam," Aras Abed, the head of a Kurdish anti-chemical weapons campaign group, told AFP news agency.

Saddam Hussein, whose regime was toppled in April 2003, is facing trial in an Iraqi court for alleged crimes against humanity committed against Kurds, Shia Muslims, and opposition activists over three decades.

He appeared in court in July to hear seven preliminary charges, including one which specifically refers to the Halabja attack.

US officials say Iraq may have up to 260 mass graves containing as many as 300,000 bodies.

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