A mass grave containing at least 10 human skulls was discovered in northern Afghanistan by construction workers digging the earth to build a car park in an army compound, Afghan officials said on Wednesday.

The discovery of the grave on Tuesday in the northern Balkh province in the Deh Dadi district near the site of a major battle during the country's bloody civil war of the early 1990s is yet another reminder of the country's turbulent past.

We brought 10 to 15 skeletons out of the grave and then stopped digging, said Mohammad Nahim, a spokesman for the Afghan army in the north said.

Nahim added that the army asked forensic and human rights bodies to investigate the grave, where the hands of skeletons, some poking out from dusty sweaters, had been tied behind their backs with blue rope.

The army stopped operating around the grave on Wednesday, following a request from the Independent Human Rights Commission, which will investigate when the people were killed, its head Sayed Mohammad told Reuters.

Soon it will become clear who they were and why they were killed, Nahim added. Army officials estimate that the number of bodies in the grave could be higher.

The grave is some two kilometres (1.2 mile) from Qala-e-Jangi, where the Taliban killed hundreds of resistance fighters led by mujahideen hero Ahmad Shah Massoud.

(Reporting by Bashir Ansari, writing by Mirwais Harooni, editing by Amie Ferris-Rotman and Ed Lane)