KIRKUK, Iraq, April 16 (UPI) # Kurdish satellite television reported Wednesday it has found a cemetery filled with an estimated 3,000 unmarked shallow graves, located at a Kirkuk military camp.
The northern Iraq oil city was taken over by Kurdish and U.S. forces on April 10. The city is the starting point for the pipeline that carries crude to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, one of two loading points for tankers hauling crude under the U.N. oil-for-food program.
Kurds have re-occupied the city since the departure of Iraqi forces. Satellite television for Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two major Kurdish parties, was led to the grave by a Kurdish resident.
The graves were filled by people buried in civilian clothes, and are believed to have been civilians, the news outlet said according to a translation by British Broadcast Corp. The cemetery was located at the southern edge of the road to a large Iraqi military position, near the house of slain Iraqi Ali Hassan al-Majid, so-called “Chemical Ali,” who is accused of killing more than 100,000 Kurds in a chemical weapon strike in 1988, was killed April 5 in a coalition strike.
Also Wednesday, the secretary-general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two major Kurdish parties, requested no one tamper with mass graves due to the risk of disturbing evidence. The PUK announcement called on Kurds and the group’s Peshmerga Forces to inform government departments and party centers of any mass graves they may find, who in turn would alert the appropriate experts.
A report Tuesday by Human Rights Watch, however, says dozens of civilians have been killed in Kirkuk, a site of continued looting and false expulsions of Arab families by Kurdish forces. According to the report, at least 40 civilians have been killed in the city since Coalition forces have taken control.