World War II mass grave found in Slovenia

Slovenia map

A mass grave from the end of World War II has been discovered in Slovenia.

The 20m-long pit near the town of Prevalje is believed to contain the remains of up to 700 men and women, said government official Marko Strovs.

Some of the people buried in the grave appear to have been shot, others seem to have been hacked to death, he added.

Researchers believe the victims might have been suspected Nazi collaborators killed by communist-backed anti-fascists.

The victims' shoes show that at least some of them were civilians, said Mr Strovs, who works for the government commission for exhuming mass graves.

Initial findings indicate that their hands were tied behind their backs.

"Based on what we've heard from local people and what we've seen so far, there could be about 700 bodies buried inside," Mr Strovs said.

Rumours about a mass killing in the Prevalje forest in northern Slovenia have reportedly circulated in the area for years, after a boy said he witnessed the executions while hiding behind a tree.

Investigators moved in last week, after recent floods and a landslide revealed some bones.

The bodies will be exhumed once a prosecutor officially launches an investigation.

Anti-fascists killed thousands of suspected Nazi collaborators after the war, but often also murdered innocent civilians.

The authorities in the former Yugoslavia played down or denied the killings, but several mass graves have been found in the region in recent years.

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