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Mass grave unearthed in northern Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan authorities have discovered a mass grave containing at least 100 bodies believed to be victims of a Taliban massacre in the 1990s, security officials said on Saturday.

The grave was discovered in the northern province of Balkh, about 15 km (10 miles) from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Provincial security official Abdurrauf Taj said about 100 bodies had been found in the grave, which is about 100 meters (yards) from a residential area.

“We expect the number may rise,” Taj told Reuters.

Residents of the area said they suspected the dead were members of the Hazara ethnic minority, massacred after the Taliban captured the area in the late 1990s.

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“These were all innocent people killed by the Taliban,” said shopkeeper Mohammad Sami.

Provincial security commander Sardar Mohammad Sultani said the dead may have been massacred by the Taliban and investigators hoped to determine the truth.

None of the bodies were being moved until a team from Kabul inspected the site, Sultani said.

Mass graves from Afghanistan’s three decades of war are occasionally unearthed in different parts of the country.

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Last year, a grave containing several hundred bodies was found in the northeastern province of Badakhshan.

Reporting by Thair Qadiry; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Robert Birsel