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16 skeletons found in Romanian mass grave

By Cosmin Stan, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Popricani is one of two places in Romania where mass graves have been unearthed
  • The Jewish population has dwindled in that country
  • Prosecutors have launched a probe

Bucharest, Romania (CNN) -- Romanian officials are trying to determine whether 16 skeletons found in a mass grave were Jews slain by the country's troops during World War II.

Archeologists embarked on a dig in the village of Popricani near the eastern town of Iasi to follow up on information that Jews were killed and buried there.

Two military prosecutors and one civilian prosecutor launched a probe after the remains were found, authorities said.

The prosecutors intend to use anthropological expertise to determine the age and sex of the remains, and experts will be looking for signs of violence.

The A.D. Xenopol Institute of History and the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania discovered the graves Thursday.

Statistics show that almost 750,000 Jews were living in Romania before the war, but the population is only 10,000 today.

Popricani is one of two places in Romania where mass graves have been unearthed since World War II.

In the nearby Romanian town of Stanca Roznovanu, three mass graves found in 1945 revealed 311 bodies.