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Egyptian POW graves said found in Sinai

CAIRO, Sept. 20 -- A team guided by an Egyptian veteran of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war has unearthed in the Sinai Peninsula two mass graves of Egyptian prisoners of war allegedly killed by the Israeli army, Cairo's government-run newspaper al-Ahram said Wednesday. The daily newspaper, which sponsored the expedition, said excavators and a dredger dug for just six hours before finding the first grave with the help of Abdel-Salam Moussa, a former Egyptian POW who allegedly helped bury his comrades 28 years ago. A retired Israeli army officer last month told an Israeli newspaper his unit executed Egyptian prisoners after Israel had invaded the Sinai during the 1956 Suez war. An Israeli historian subsequently said Israeli soldiers executed about 300 Egyptian POWs during the 1967 war. Egyptian rights campaigners and private lawyers have demanded an inquiry and a war-crimes trial, as well as compensation from Israel. Al-Ahram quoted the former POW as saying he witnessed the massacre of Egyptian soldiers and civilians by Israelis on June 6 and 7, 1967. The war broke out June 5. Moussa said he was ordered by Israeli captors to help in the burial. But he did not explain how he himself escaped death. The mass grave, pictures of which were published with the report, was at an air force base just west of the Mediterranean town of el-Arish, about 200 miles (320 km) northeast of Cairo. After unearthing the grave, the report said, a local Bedouin guided the team to another site, where he and other residents said they saw Israeli soldiers line up and shoot more than 30 Egyptian officers and men during the 1967 war.

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The guide, Suleiman Salama, led the expedition to a site in Wadi el- Midan, about 15 miles (25 km) west of el-Arish, where the team unearthed a second mass grave, the newspaper said. Salama said he and other Bedouins buried the slain men after the Israelis left. Al-Ahram said interviews with several local witnesses revealed that many other Egyptian officers and soldiers were similarly killed by the Israeli army in the el-Arish area during the 1967 war.

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