Yazidi volunteer
A volunteer from the Yazidi sect that has joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces stands in a Sinjar streetReuters

A booby-trapped mass grave holding with the bodies of up to 123 people from the minority Yazidi community has been discovered near Sinjar, Iraq. Local officials in the north-eastern region of the country have been searching the area extensively since the town was liberated from Islamic State (Isis) extremists by Kurdish forces, backed by a US-led coalition, on 13 November.

The pit containing the bodies was located 10km (six miles) west of Sinjar and is the sixth mass grave discovered in the area, according to senior local official Mahma Khalil. The low-lying grave has not yet been completely excavated, but the victims were not buried deeply, and some of their remains have been exposed by rainwater.

IS captured Sinjar in August 2014 with many reports of widespread massacres, enslavement and rape of Yazidi women and girls. The Yazidis are a small religious sect, whose ancient beliefs transcend a number of religions, including Christianity.

Older Yazidis are believed to have been separated from their families and murdered, while younger women were sold into slavery amongst IS fighters and forced to convert to Islam. Thousands were displaced, including a small group who were stranded on top of Mount Sinjar, with the United Nations describing the killings as a possible genocide.

Khalil said to the AFP that there was a number of witnesses to the mass execution and that the grave was surrounded by a large number of bombs. IS have been known to booby trap homes, roads and even children's toys.

Two mass graves, thought to contain the remains of mainly female members of the Yazidi community massacred by IS, were discovered on 15 November. Kurdish forces said they found bones, hair and personal effects with one grave said to contain the bodies of more than 70 elderly female Yazidis, while another is said to contain the bodies of 60 women and children, east of Sinjar.

The Kurdish Security Council said they had 'freed' 28 villages and more than 80 square miles from IS control since November 12. And Kurdish commanders have been forced to deny reports that they have burned and looted Muslim homes in the region.