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Mass Grave May Hold Remains of Kuwaitis

Allied forces seek to determine if the bodies at a southern Iraqi site are those of prisoners missing since the Gulf War.

May 10, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Allied forces in Iraq are investigating a mass grave that may hold the remains of Kuwaiti prisoners from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, officials said Friday.

A Kuwaiti POW task force and allied forces two days ago found the grave site near the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, a Pentagon official said.

"Based on evidence found ... this could possibly be the remains of Kuwaiti citizens missing since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of the country," the U.S. Central Command said.

Defense Department officials did not elaborate on the evidence or say how many bodies were believed to be in the grave.

Kuwait says 600 people were taken during Iraq's 1990-91 occupation of the tiny, oil-rich emirate. Under U.N. resolutions that ended the Gulf War, Iraq was required to return them or account for them but never did.

Some Kuwaitis recently protested in that country to demand that their government and allied forces do more to account for their loved ones.

Last month, Kuwait's government offered a $1-million reward for information that would help uncover the fate of the missing.

Since U.S.-led troops drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait 12 years ago, there have been occasional reports from ex-convicts in Iraq who said they had seen -- and sometimes spoken to -- Kuwaiti war prisoners. But the last reports were several years ago, raising doubts about how many could have survived in Iraq's notorious prisons.

Families of the prisoners say their loved ones were taken from hospitals, mosques and streets, sometimes for scribbling anti-Saddam Hussein graffiti on walls.

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