Cairo - Workers have unearthed a mass grave containing what appears to be the remains of 52 Egyptian soldiers presumed to have been "executed" by Israeli forces in the 1967 war, a newspaper said here on Monday.
The Egyptian authorities went to the site after they were alerted by the workers who found the grave on June 20 in the Sinai desert city of Ras Sudr, some 200km southeast of Cairo, the opposition Al-Wafd daily said.
The daily published photographs of skulls and bones as well as officials from the south Sinai governorate at the excavation site.
Officials at the Sinai governorate and the Egyptian foreign ministry were not immediately available for comment following inquiries by AFP.
Israeli embassy spokeswoman Ayellet Yehiav said she had first become aware of the allegation while reading the report in Al-Wafd but so far the Egyptian authorities have not contacted the embassy about it.
Al-Wafd, which is a daily owned by the liberal opposition party of the same name, said construction workers told them that the remains of 52 soldiers had been found through a count of skulls and jawbones.
Although metallic military name tags were absent, some bodies were identifiable through identity cards found in the pockets of their uniforms, the newspaper reported.
Al Wafd said that some of the skulls and uniforms bore traces of bullet holes, which it said "proves that the soldiers were executed by the Israelis," who occupied the Sinai during the war.
The workers were "overcome with sadness and astonishment at the discovery of the mass grave and started to dig with their bare hands in search of bodies," the paper said.
A letter written by a soldier to his family at the end of the month of May, days before war broke out on June 5, 1967, was found near the remains of one soldier, Al Wafd said.
The bones, remains of uniforms and papers have been separated and placed in sheets provided by the inhabitants of the region and taken to laboratories to undergo tests, the daily added. - Sapa-AFP