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Iraqis dig up mass grave of bodies from Shiite uprising.

Iraqis digging with shovels and their bare hands yesterday excavated a mass grave filled with the remains of dozens of people who witnesses said were executed after a 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein's government.

Fragments of watches, a blue woman's slipper, bloody clothing and pieces of traditional black cloaks often worn by Iraqi women were found at the site 13 miles north-west of Najaf, one of the most holy cities for Shiite Muslims. Bullet casings also were found near the graves.

About 25 bodies were dug up on Saturday and 10 identified. About 20 more sets of remains were uncovered yesterday. It was unclear how many bodies were buried at the site, but several mounds were visible on the flat farmland - hills that US Marines in the area said could mark additional graves.

Some bodies had identification cards in their pockets.

'I'm looking for my own relatives,' said Jawad Shaker, who arrived at the site on Sunday.

Another person said he was looking for his nephew who disappeared in 1991.

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group, was directing the excavation of the site and said it was preparing a special section of a cemetery to rebury those who it called the 'martyrs' of 1991.

Tens of thousands of people were killed after Iraq's Shiite majority rose up after the 1991 Gulf War and seized control of most of the southern part of the country. Shiites, a minority in the Islamic world, make up 60 per cent of Iraq's Muslims and were ruled for a generation by Saddam Hussein's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim Baath Party.

Iraqi forces used helicopter gunships and tanks to defeat the lightly armed rebels. Thousands of people are believed to have been executed after the failed revolt.


The remains of bodies lay wrapped in white sheets at the site of a suspected mass grave that was uncovered 20 kilometers north of Najaf
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 5, 2003
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