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Bones found near Russia's Yekaterinburg most likely belong to last czar's children

There is a "high probability" that the bones found recently near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg belonged to a daughter and son of the last czar, an official said Friday, citing preliminary forensic work.

"Investigators have made a preliminary conclusion that there is a high degree of probability that the bones ... belong to the Crown Prince Alexei and Princess Maria," Vladimir Gromov, deputy forensic chief in the Sverdlovsk region, said in televised remarks.

The bones were found by archaeologists in a burned field near Yekaterinburg, a city in the Ural Mountains where Czar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their five children were held prisoner by the Bolsheviks and then shot in 1918. The discovery was announced in August.

Prosecutors later announced they would reopen an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the royal family.

In 1998, remains unearthed from a mining pit and identified as those of Nicholas and Alexandra and three of their daughters were reburied in a ceremony in the imperial-era capital of St. Petersburg. The ceremony, however, was shadowed by statements of doubt - including from within the Russian Orthodox Church - about their authenticity.

If confirmed, the latest find would fill in a missing chapter in the story of the doomed Romanov family, whose reign was ended by the violent 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which ushered in more than 70 years of Communist rule.

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