Colombia to begin large-scale excavation of mass grave

AP News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2015 5:15 PM

BOGOTA (AP) — Colombian officials will soon begin exhumation of a mass grave that could prove to be the largest in the country's history, authorities said Friday.

The grisly work of unearthing the mass grave in Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, will begin on July 27 and will likely take months to complete. The bodies are believed to be the result of years of fighting among right-wing paramilitaries, leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers.

Workers could discover more than 100 bodies, according to national prosecutor's office spokeswoman Caterina Heyck, though it's hard to know in advance what they will find.

She said it could be "the largest" judicial exhumation in Colombia's history. Officials received information on the mass burial site from demobilized paramilitary fighters.

The country's five-decade long civil war has left the landscape pockmarked with unmarked grave. In recent years, officials have exhumed thousands of bodies and attempted to return the remains to family members. Workers use DNA to match bodies with people reported missing.

The government has been negotiating with the guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in Havana for two and a half years to end the conflict.