COBAN, Guatemala – Forensic experts have unearthed the remains of 99 Guatemalan civil war victims and are looking for more.
Found inside clandestine graves inside a military base, the forensic team is looking for the remains of between 200 and 300 people who disappeared in the area during the country’s 36-year civil war.
One of the Forensic team members, Edgar Telon del Cid, said they found 15 pits inside a military post in the city of Coban.
The base is currently used for training for special forces who support peace missions worldwide.
Telon said Wednesday that the exhumation is the first of seven that have been requested by prosecutors and relatives of the missing.
Before coming to an end in 1996, Guatemala's civil war claimed at least 200,000 lives, most of them Mayan Indians.
The country's U.S.-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to the findings of a truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed.
Guatemala opened an investigation into the killings in 1994 and unearthed 162 skeletons. Several years later, authorities issued arrest warrants for 17 kaibiles but the cases languished.
Guatemala's leaders have been criticized for years for their inability or unwillingness to prosecute government forces and allied paramilitaries accused of marching into Mayan villages, carrying out rapes and torture, and slaughtering women, children and unarmed men in a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at eliminating the support for a left-wing guerrilla movement.
In August 2011, a Guatemalan court sentenced three other former special forces soldiers to 6,060 years in prison each for the massacre, and sentenced a former army second lieutenant to 6,066 years.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.