FALLUJAH, Iraq — The bodies of 21 people killed in fighting between Sunni insurgents and US forces in the town of Fallujah, west of the Iraqi capital, were discovered on Tuesday in a cemetery, officials said.

"The bodies were found in body-bags with Latin letters and numbers on them," said Fallujah police chief Brigadier General Mahmud al-Essawi. "They were blindfolded, their legs were tied and they had suffered gunshot wounds."

The discovery was made in a section of Al-Maadhidi cemetery in the centre of the town, 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Baghdad, as a grave was being dug in preparation for a funeral, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

Essawi and town mayor Adnan Hussein both said the dead were killed in 2004 when the US army launched two major offensives on Fallujah to dislodge Sunni insurgents.

Hussein charged that the 21 were killed by US forces, who remain unpopular in Fallujah due to the assaults. "The black body-bags and the manner in which they were buried proves this," he said.

The US military declined immediate comment on the report.