El Salvador apologises 30 years after massacre

El Salvador`s government has asked for `forgiveness` over a civil war-era massacre in 1981.

San Salvador: El Salvador`s government has asked for "forgiveness" over a civil war-era massacre in 1981 in which soldiers executed more than 1,000 people, nearly half of them children.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the slaughter at the small northeastern village of El Mozote, where troops rounded up men, women and children, accused many of collaborating with leftist guerrillas, and killed them in cold blood.

It was among the worst massacres in the country`s bloody
1980-1992 civil war, which still casts a shadow over the
Central American nation.

"I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate on
behalf of the government of El Salvador our request for
forgiveness to the thousands of innocent victims, but
especially the victims of the massacre at El Mozote," Foreign
Minister Hugo Martinez said during a ceremony at the town

Martinez noted that Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes --
the country`s first democratically-elected leftist president
since the civil war -- had already apologised for other
violent incidents attributed to the army, state security
forces and paramilitary groups.

"This event seeks to honor the memory of hundreds of
innocent people who were murdered 30 years ago here in El
Mozote and in other nearby hamlets," he said.

According to Martinez, "the blindness of state violence
also took away innocent lives" in nearby towns La Joya,
Rancheria and Los Toriles, and it was important that the
government adopt a position "that recognizes the rights of
victims and does not evade responsibility of the State."

The December 11-13, 1981 killings at El Mozote were
committed by troops of the now-banned Atlacatl Battalion of
the Army. Their crimes, including torture and rape, left the
international community appalled.

A truth commission created by the United Nations blamed a
number of military officials, some of whom were killed in the
civil war. UN officials were present at Saturday`s ceremony in
El Mozote.

Activists say they are still waiting for justice, and they
hope their case will be taken up by the Inter-American Court
of Human Rights based in Costa Rica.


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