Iraqi security forces uncovered a mass grave containing about 50 bodies, some badly decomposed and others killed more recently, during a hunt on Tuesday for al Qaeda fighters north of Baghdad, police said. According to Reuters, police and members of a neighbourhood security unit raided a house thought to be used by al Qaeda in an area near Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad, when they found 10 people who had been kidnapped from a nearby town.
Police said information from some of the people freed from that house led to the discovery of the grave nearby. Local families had identified some of those buried in the grave, police said. Three car bombs were also located in the area.
The discovery of the mass grave came after Iraq's government said it had started to rebuild a revered Shi'ite shrine in Samarra which was bombed two years ago. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Samarra and its al-Askari mosque which was badly damaged in a bombing by suspected al Qaeda men in February 2006 would be rebuilt.
That bombing toppled the mosque's famed golden dome and unleashed savage sectarian fighting.