BAGHDAD – Remains of possibly dozens of people believed slain in sectarian violence were unearthed Saturday from a mass grave in a former al-Qaida stronghold in southern Baghdad – the third such find in Iraq this month.
The badly decomposed remains were found in Baghdad’s mostly Sunni Dora neighborhood by Sunnis who have turned against al-Qaida in Iraq, police said. They were discovered in an area overlooking the main highway leading to Shiite shrine cities in the south.
Sunni extremists would often waylay travelers along that road, kidnapping and killing Shiites.
The remains were placed in black plastic bags and transferred to a Shiite mosque in Dora, according to a police officer at the mosque.
An Associated Press photographer at the Kazimain mosque counted 33 plastic bags, and police said each bag held the remains of one victim. But the remains were so badly decomposed that it was impossible to verify the number.
Some of the bags were opened, revealing body parts, bones and scraps of clothing. One of the bags contained a prosthetic leg.
Relatives of people who had been missing in the area crowded into a courtyard outside the mosque, where the remains were laid out. But none of the remains had been identified by late Saturday. A woman in a black abaya wept as the bags were opened.