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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Peru strife killed 69,000

Ashaniki indigenous women liberated from the Shining Path in 1991
Indians bore the brunt of violence
At least 69,000 people died or disappeared in Peru's political violence between 1980 and 2000, according to a landmark government report.

The figure far exceeds earlier estimates, in which humanitarian groups had said that as many as 30,000 had been killed during the state's crackdown on left-wing rebels.

In a two-year investigation, Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission collected 17,000 testimonies from people affected by the violence, including jailed rebel leaders.

The report says most of the victims of Peru's internal war are believed to have come from indigenous communities, trapped between state troops and rebel insurgents such as the Shining Path.

The investigation, in which members of the commission were given unprecedented access to military documents, blamed the start of the violence on Shining Path, a Maoist group, which launched an uprising in 1980.

Methodical killers

The commission says that Shining Path employed a systematic "terrorist methodology" to carry out massacres.

You didn't realise that often it was innocent people who died
Zuniga, Lima resident

However, the report also accused the army and police of playing a part in what it described as crimes against humanity.

"The last two decades of the 20th Century were marked by horror and dishonour for Peruvian society," the commission's president, Salomon Lerner, said as the report was handed over to Peru's President Alejandro Toledo.

"The most likely figure of victims is more than 69,000, who died at the hands of subversives and forces of the state," he said, adding the number was "overwhelming."

He said those deemed responsible should be punished.

Violence ignored

The report's nine volumes of evidence and other information cover Peru's brutal civil war, which ranks among the bloodiest in Latin American history.

Zuniga, a 30-year old resident of Lima, said people did not take note of the fighting before it reached the capital.

"I was only 15. We didn't pay attention to what was happening in the countryside," she said.

"It didn't affect us. You didn't realise that often it was innocent people who died."

The BBC's Hannah Hennessy
"Many of them were members of Peru's indigenous community"

Peruvians wait for answers
28 Aug 03  |  Americas
Peru rebel ambush raises fears
11 Jul 03  |  Americas
Timeline: Peru
07 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Peru
01 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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