A mass grave containing the remains of 12 people, including a paramedic who disappeared more than a year ago, was unearthed in central Iraq in an area long controlled by al-Qaida, officials said Monday.
Two of the decomposed bodies were beheaded, according to an official at Fallujah General Hospital, where the bodies were taken after their discovery on Sunday. Hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to release details of the discovery, said some appeared to have been killed as recently as four months ago, and some of the deaths dated to 18 months ago.
Along with the bodies was a Health Ministry card that belonged to the missing paramedic, according to footage from AP Television News.
Iraqi troops unearthed the bodies Sunday afternoon near Lake Tharthar, a man-made body of water about 100 kilometers northeast of Baghdad that has been the site of several mass graves found in recent months. Since ousting extremists in some of the country's most violent areas, Iraqis from both Islamic sects have stepped up their patrols for the missing, leading to more discoveries.