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05 April 2003(Sat)
'Hundreds' of human remains found
11.49AM BST, 5 Apr 2003
Hundreds of human remains have been discovered in a "makeshift morgue" by British soldiers in southern Iraq.
The skulls, bundles of bone in strips of military uniform, were dumped in plastic bags and unsealed hardboard coffins in an abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of Al Zubayr.
It is impossible to say how long the remains had been there but the grim discovery will now be investigated by forensic specialists as possible evidence of atrocities perpetrated by the Iraqi regime.
The coffins were stacked five deep in a warehouse, and a neighbouring building contained apparent cells and catalogues of photographs of the dead, most of whom had died from gunshot wounds to the head.
Others were mutilated beyond recognition, their faces burned and swollen in the faded black and white photographs.
Outside stood what one soldier described as "a purpose-built shooting gallery".
A tiled foot-high plinth stood in a courtyard, with the brickwork riddled with bullets, and a drainage ditch.
Inside the warehouse, one of the bags and coffins contained an identity card written in Arabic, while military webbing and boot soles were visible in others.