Conflicts & War

Forensic experts search for remains of Salvadoran massacre victims

San Salvador, Feb 23 (EFE).- El Salvador forensic experts continued the search Wednesday for the remains of victims of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in a remote area in the east of the country.

The search is being carried out according to the testimonies of survivors of the incident that took place during the country’s civil war.

“No remains have yet been found,” Guadalupe Hernández, a lawyer from the Cristosal humanitarian organization, who represents the victims in the criminal proceedings facing more than a dozen retired high-ranking military officers, told reporters.

She added that the experts, supported by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), who are carrying out excavations in the area known as La Joya, have moved to a sector free of debris, so there is a possibility that “remains can be found there.”

In this area, the remains of five people are being sought: a 3-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, a 7-month-old baby and their mother, plus an 11-month-old boy.

Silvana Turner, from the EAAF, told reporters that the search is complicated because of the age of the sites.

The search area “has been changing over time and those changes can also alter or modify expectations,” she said.

Between Feb. 14 -18, forensic experts carried out excavations in a place known as Cerro Pando, where the remains of 11 people were sought and only bone fragments were found.

According to a report of the United Nations’ Truth Commission for El Salvador, between December 10-13, 1981, units of the Atlacatl Battalion “deliberately and systematically” executed almost 1,000 children, men and women from El Mozote and surroundings.

The EAAF has accompanied the exhumations related to the El Mozote massacre since they began in 1992, when they recovered the remains of some 400 people, mostly minors.

The massacre took place during the civil war, which was fought between the military and the then-guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front between 1979 and 1992. The conflict left around 75,000 dead and 8,000 disappeared. EFE


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