The Hong Kong Telegraph - Experts exhume some El Salvador massacre victims

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Experts exhume some El Salvador massacre victims
Experts exhume some El Salvador massacre victims

Experts exhume some El Salvador massacre victims

Forensic experts on Monday started exhuming the remains of at least 16 victims, mainly children, of a massacre committed by soldiers in El Salvador 41 years ago.

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They were among nearly 1,000 people slain in and around El Mozote in the country's northeast by soldiers who accused the village of aiding leftist guerrillas in El Salvador's bloody 1980-1992 civil war.

Buried in two mass graves, attempts will be made to identify the victims using DNA technology, said Silvana Turner of Argentina's EAAF forensic anthropology unit conducting the operation with Salvadoran colleagues.

Lawyer David Morales of the Cristosal victims's organization said most of the 16 victims known to have been buried here were children.

The El Mozote massacre, which took place over five days in December 1981. was the worst episode of El Salvador's internal conflict, which left more than 75,000 dead and more than 7,000 people missing.

It was one of the deadliest massacres in Latin American history.

Soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion -- a counter-insurgency command trained by the United States -- burnt homes, raped women and killed all the villagers they could find.

Some children were thrown in the air and slashed with machetes, according to survivor accounts.

According to official figures, 986 people -- 558 of them children -- died in El Mozote and adjacent communities.

In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights blamed the Salvadoran government for the massacre and ordered reparations.

Four years later, the country's Supreme Court ruled that a blanket amnesty for war crimes during the conflict was unconstitutional, and charges were brought against soldiers accused of involvement.