Januar 27, 2000
Rights groups: Remains of 50 bodies tied to Guatemalan civil war

                  GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Human rights officials said Thursday they
                  have unearthed the remains of 50 people at a clandestine cemetery, apparent
                  victims of Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

                  Digging at the grave site ended Thursday after nearly two months. The
                  remains of two children, about ages 5 and 7, were among those found at the
                  site, said Mario Polanco, coordinator of the Mutual Support Group, an
                  organization for the families of missing persons.

                  The graves were located near a parochial school in Zacualpa, a village 40
                  miles northwest of Guatemala City. The victims found there likely were killed
                  between 1980 and 1982, during the hard-line presidency of Romeo Lucas
                  Garcia and the dictatorship of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, Polanco said.

                  At the time, military forces entered Zacualpa from the municipality of
                  Quiche, 35 miles northeast of the village, he said. Soldiers occupied the
                  village church and parochial school. They questioned, tortured and killed
                  hundreds of Indian villagers they thought were sympathetic to insurgent

                  More than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared during Guatemala's
                  war between leftist Indian groups and government forces. The fighting ended
                  with peace accords signed in 1996.

                  Human rights leaders fought two years of court battles with government
                  officials for permission to search for some of the thousands of bodies thought
                  to buried in the Guatemalan highlands and other rural areas. They finally
                  were able to begin digging in Zacualpa in December.

                  The Mutual Support Group is also digging for bodies in Quiche and the city
                  of Chimaltenango, where similar government-ordered massacres are thought
                  to have occurred.

                  Rios Montt took power in a March 1982 coup. Human rights groups accuse
                  his iron-fisted junta of having killed many rebels and suspected rebel
                  sympathizers during his 17-month rule.

                    Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.