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By Twana Osman SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Laborers digging on a construction site in northern Iraq uncovered human skulls and bones on Tuesday, which interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said were part of a mass grave believed to contain some 500 bodies.
Allawi told Iraq's National Council in Baghdad that the grave was found near the city of Sulaimaniya in the autonomous Kurdish region in the northeast of the country, where Saddam Hussein's forces carried out atrocities in the late 1980s.
"Today a mass grave was discovered in the city of Sulaimaniya, with the initial number of 500 martyrs," he said.
Allawi gave no further details but residents living nearby said workers found the remains while preparing the ground for a new hospital near a highway in Debashan, north of Sulaimaniya.
Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights has sealed off the site, where its staff are working. The driver of a mechanical digger told Kurdish television about 900 bodies might be in the grave but it was too early to know how many were buried there