Jewish community leaders in Ukraine say a mass grave has been unearthed in the southern part of the country that is believed to contain the remains of thousands of Jews killed by Nazis in World War II.

A spokesman for the regional Jewish community says the grave was found by chance last month by workers digging pipelines in a village, Gvozdavka, near Odessa.

The spokesman, Roman Shvartsman, says Nazis established two wartime ghettos near the village, and transported Jews from what is now the nearby nation of Moldova. He says other Jews from elsewhere in Ukraine were taken to the camps, where up to 5,000 prisoners were executed.

Shvartsman says the Jewish community had long-known about the killings, but had not known precisely where the bodies were buried.

A spokesman for the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told the Associated Press that hundreds of wartime mass graves exist in Ukraine, where analysts say up to 1.5 million Jews are thought to have been killed.

Some information for this report provided by AP.