Anti-Taleban fighters executed
Friday, 23 November, 2001, 16:45 GMT
Forces at the airbase fear more gruesome discoveries
By the BBC's Jim Muir
A mass grave containing the bodies of 12 mujahideen guerrillas has been discovered at an air-base south of Herat in western Afghanistan, which was evacuated by the Taleban just over a week ago.
The bodies all had their arms tied behind their backs. There's no doubt it was a cold-blooded mass execution.
The bodies had been buried in a small swimming pool behind the hospital in the sprawling airbase complex at Shindand about 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Herat.
After about two metres of earth had been dug away, the huddled and twisted shapes of corpses gradually began to emerge.
It was immediately evident that none of the 12 men whose bodies were eventually pulled out had died in combat.
Gunshots to head
All of them had their arms pinioned behind their backs.
Most appeared to have been killed by gunshots to the head. Some of the skulls had holes blasted in them, or were in pieces.
The bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition. They belonged to a group of mujahideen guerrillas who were captured by the Taleban eight months ago.
They were apparently executed summarily a short time later.
Mujahideen forces who took over the air base after the Taleban fled last week fear that further gruesome discoveries may lie ahead.
Many more of their comrades were taken prisoner by the Taleban and have not been heard of since.
The bodies of four were found in a similar condition nearby last week but several dozen others remain unaccounted for.
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