83 bodies dug up in Stalin-era mass graves in Warsaw

Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) said Friday it had exhumed from mass graves in Warsaw the remains of 83 victims of a Stalin-era campaign of terror.

Most of those found in mass graves at the edge of Powazki military cemetery had been killed by a bullet to the neck, according to the IPN's forensic specialists, adding they would use DNA testing to establish their identities.

The bodies are suspected of belonging to victims of the post-war Stalinist reign of terror against Polish anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet partisans in the 1940s and 1950s.

The dig had been designed in part to locate anti-Nazi resistance heroes.

IPN hopes to find the remains of General Emil Fieldorf, head of Poland's anti-Nazi resistance army, and Witold Pilecki, a Polish partisan who infiltrated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German death camp to share his testimony with the world.

After the war, both men were accused of high treason and sentenced to death by Poland's communist authorities loyal to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Their bodies were never found.

The latest four-week dig followed the exhumation last year of 117 victims.

The institute believes that around 50,000 people were killed during the reign of terror in Poland, with many of the surviving family members still trying to locate their places of burial.

Digs are under way across the country, part of a research project launched in 2011 and focused on identifying the victims of Stalinism.