December 20, 2000

Thirteen bodies found in mass grave at former Guatemalan army base

                  CHOATALUN, Guatemala (AP) -- Anthropologists have found the remains of 13
                  men buried in a mass grave at a former army base -- a discovery that may lead to more
                  victims of a massacre committed during Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

                  The skeletal remains were found on land about 40 miles west of Guatemala City that was once
                  part of the Choatalun base, researchers said Tuesday. Some of the victims apparently had
                  been blindfolded or had ropes tied around their hands or necks.

                  The victims, buried about 10 feet deep in the early 1980s, were apparently some of the first
                  to die during an army operation in the area against suspected supporters of leftist
                  guerrillas. The number of remains may increase as excavations continue, said
                  Freddy Peccerelli, president of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology

                  "We are certain that there are more. According to witnesses, this is one of the
                  holes where the military buried its victims," Peccerelli said. He said the
                  foundation will continue excavations here and at four other nearby sites.

                  According to a U.N. report, about 5,000 Mayan Indians were rounded up by the
                  army in the area in December 1982. Of those, 3,000 were reportedly killed and
                  their bodies buried in several nearby locations.

                  The killings came during a civil war that left more than 200,000 people dead in
                  all. Reports by human rights groups indicate the army committed the vast
                  majority of the human rights abuses reported during the war.

                  Leftist guerrillas and the government signed peace accords ending the conflict in

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.