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Mass grave excavated in Peru village

May 25, 2008|From the Associated Press

LIMA, PERU — A Peruvian forensic team has begun excavating a mass grave containing the remains of 123 men, women and children killed by the military 24 years ago, a human rights representative said Saturday.

Investigators in the highland village of Putis, in the southern province of Ayacucho, have exhumed 25 skeletons piled on top of one another among bullet and clothing fragments, said German Vargas, head of a group representing victims' families.

Ayacucho was the epicenter of violence by Maoist Shining Path guerrillas as well as a brutal, state-sponsored counterinsurgency campaign in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1984, according to a government-appointed truth commission, the military offered Putis as a haven for people fleeing Shining Path rebels in the region.

Soldiers then tricked villagers into digging their own grave and killed them, on suspicion of ties to the guerrillas.

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