'Andean Butcher' Victims' Remains To Be Finally Laid To Rest, Decades On

'Andean butcher' victims' remains to be finally laid to rest, decades on

Accomarca, Peru, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th May, 2022 ) :After 37 years, dozens of victims of the worst massacre in Peru's conflict with radical left-wing guerrillas will finally be laid to rest in their Andean village following a years-long identification process.

A funeral ceremony will take place Friday in the tiny isolated village of Accomarca where its 500 inhabitants, most of whom speak only their native Quechua language, live off potato, quinoa, wheat and barley crops.

It was in this remote village at 3,400-meters altitude that on August 14, 1985 an army patrol under the command of second lieutenant Telmo Hurtado massacred almost the entire population, accusing them of being members of the notorious Shining Path communist guerrillas.

Friday's ceremony is one step on the road to healing the wounds and was made possible by a long identification process led by the Peruvian public prosecutor's office in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has provided support to families.

The bodies were exhumed years ago from a mass grave to be identified using DNA tests.

Packaged in boxes, the remains were returned to Accomarca on Wednesday where, in the presence of grieving relatives at the town hall, they were placed into individual small white coffins bearing the victim's name.

They were then taken to the local church by loved ones where they remained for a two-day vigil ahead of their final journey to the small cemetery outside the village.

"The pain in my heart can never be healed. What were my mother and my siblings guilty of?" Teofilia Ochoa told AFP, after accompanying six coffins into the church.

"They lined them all up, put them in three houses and opened fire with gunshots and bombs and set them on fire. Everyone was screaming, it was awful," said the 49-year-old, who carries around with her a black and white photograph of her mother.

Ochoa managed to escape the massacre by fleeing into the countryside.