BAGHDAD, April 29 — U.S. investigators have exhumed the remains of 113 people — all but five of them women, children or teenagers — from a mass grave in southern Iraq that may hold at least 1,500 victims of Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the Kurdish minority in the 1980s, U.S. and Iraqi officials said this week.
The non-acidic soil at the grave site preserved layers and layers of distinctive Kurdish clothing worn by many of the victims, suggesting that they may have piled on their best clothes expecting to be relocated, investigators said.
Authorities showed reporters some of the remains, including the skull of an older woman with pink dentures and the skeleton of a teenage girl clutching a bag of possessions.
The grave actually is a series of 18 trenches, which investigators say they believe Iraqi forces dug with front loaders and maintained for systematic executions.
Investigators said that women and children were forced to stand at the edge of the pits, then shot with AK-47 assault rifles. Casings were found near the site, they said.
“They sprayed people with bullets so they fell back” into the graves, Iraq’s human rights minister, Bakhtyar Amin, told reporters.
Most of the children were very young, and 10 were infants, authorities said.