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Mass grave discovered in Iraq

world Updated: Mar 09, 2008 13:37 IST

A mass grave containing about 100 bodies has been discovered in a region north of Baghdad that has seen years of intense fighting between Shiites and Sunni extremist members of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The grisly discovery on Saturday came as Iraq's Sunni parliament speaker called on the nation's Shiites and Kurds to work together with the minority he represents to pass an election law that would help reconcile Iraq's often warring sects and splinter groups.

The grave, near Khalis in the Diyala province about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, is still being investigated, but the US military said the skeletal remains appear to have been there for a long time.

It was not immediately clear how the people had died, the military said.

Police Col. Sabah al-Ambaqi said the grave was discovered in an orchard near al-Bu Tumaa, a Sunni village outside Khalis. He said authorities including both Iraqi and US forces were conducting a search when they uncovered the site.

Khalis is a Shiite town surrounded by Sunni communities and has been the scene of repeated sectarian attacks. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is active in the area, which has seen hundreds of kidnapping and mass abductions in past years.

Police in Diyala reported two separate bombings on Saturday in which six people were killed.