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Peru returns bodies of war victims to families

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February 19, 2013 07:16 PM EST | AP


LIMA, Peru — Authorities in Peru's southern mountains have returned to their families the remains of 26 people killed in fighting between the army and Shining Path rebels in the 1980s.

The remains, including two women and three children, were exhumed from common graves in the Apurimac region late last year. Investigators managed to identify the remains so that they could be returned to their families for burial.

The bodies were handed over in a ceremony in the city of Cuzco on Tuesday. The families carried the remains of their loved ones in white coffins down the stone streets of the city, which serves as the gateway to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

The victims were believed to be local residents and villagers caught in the cross fire between soldiers and rebels, officials said.

Authorities in southeast Peru have been working in recent years to identify common graves left over from the bloody war between Maoist rebels and soldiers as part of an investigation into human rights abuses.

According to Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 69,000 people were killed or disappeared between 1980 and 2000 in Peru's armed conflict.