DASHT-E-LEILI, Afghanistan – There's a grim secret in northern Afghanistan.
The stories of a mass grave in the region continue to circulate. As many as 2,000 Taliban fighters who had been in the custody of our Afghan allies are said to be there, but nothing can be confirmed -- except that there are bodies.
The reason? Fear.
The bodies in the grave are said to be Taliban captured by Northern Alliance forces late last year. An autopsy on three bodies dug up by the United Nations in May showed the cause of death to be suffocation, most likely in the closed container of a truck. But the investigation was stopped after local officials said they could not provide security for the forensic scientists or the witnesses.
The government in Kabul has little authority here, where a warlord named Dostum, who once printed his own money with his face on it, still has a private army.
Nomads took Fox News to look for the grave, making sure to walk single file to avoid landmines. They came to one of three gravesites discovered so far by the U.N., none of which has been excavated.
The remnants of human life lie about and aren't hard to find. It appears that someone tried to burn clothes and shoes, but not everything was successful. An inspection of the area uncovered what looked like a patch of human hair still attached to parts of a skull.
Locals say there are anywhere from 200 to 2,000 bodies here. Only one thing is for sure: In one location there are human bones and hair. At another spot there are random body parts: part of a skull, a human jaw with teeth and a molar where a man had a filling.
The truth hasn't been uncovered yet, and may never be -- because these dead men can't tell their tales.
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.