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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 April, 2005, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Hundreds found in Iraq mass grave
Human remains uncovered at a mass grave discovered in the al-Samawa desert in Muthanna province, Iraq.
Women and children were gunned into the trenches, investigators say
Experts have examined a mass grave containing what are believed to be the bodies of some 1,500 Kurds, mostly women and children, in southern Iraq.

It is thought they were lined up and then gunned down into the 18 shallow trenches found near the town of Samawa.

The victims are believed to have been killed in the late 1980s after being forcibly moved from northern Iraq.

The evidence uncovered is expected to be used in the trials of Saddam Hussein and his senior aides.

Skeletons

Of 113 bodies taken out of the ground so far, all but five are women and children.

They have been identified as Kurds from their distinctive clothing. Investigators said they were wrapped in many layers, which suggested they knew they were being moved somewhere.

At least one is believed to have been an old woman. There are false teeth in the skull.

Another skeleton is thought to belong to a teenage girl, still carrying a bag of possessions.

Iraqi officials say there are nearly 300 suspected mass grave sites around the country. But, more than two years since the war, this one is only the second to be properly investigated.

The site near Samawa, some 300km south of Baghdad, was first identified last year, but proper examination did not begin until early this month.

The evidence it provides will be used by a special tribunal set up to try Saddam Hussein and other senior Iraqi officials for war crimes.

No date has yet been set for any of the trials. Officials say their work has been hampered by lack of funds and expertise as well as security problems.


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See the site of the mass grave in southern Iraq



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