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500 BODIES FOUND IN RWANDAN MASS GRAVE

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Nearly 500 bodies, mostly women and children who were hacked or bludgeoned to death, were found in a mass grave near a Rwandan church where thousands were believed massacred in 1994, an American forensic expert said Friday.

Dr. Robert H. Kirschner of Chicago said the wounds on the victims indicated few offered resistance."Almost all were killed by blunt trauma blows to head or by machete blows," he said in a telephone interview from Chicago. "More than half the victims were children, and two-thirds to three-quarters were women or children. So the idea that this was the result of some sort of combat doesn't hold any water."

But Kirschner, director of the international forensic program of Physicians For Human Rights, cast doubt on early reports that up to 4,000 people had been slaughtered after taking refuge in the local church in Kibuye.

He said the largest grave contained about 500 bodies and perhaps 200 to 300 more were still buried in smaller sites scattered around the church.