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Peru returns bodies of victims of internal war to families 3 decades later

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    People carry coffins containing the remains of people whose bodies were excavated, to a church in Cuzco, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Authorities turned over to families 26 coffins containing the remains of people from various towns whose body parts were excavated from 250 graves since November. According to Peruvian authorities, the victims, including women, children and village authorities, were killed by both members of the Shining Path militant group and the army between 1980 and 2000, and are among tens of thousands of Peruvians who died during the Maoist-inspired insurgency. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)The Associated Press

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    Fidelia Galvez stands next to a coffin containing the remains of her slain husband during a ceremony where families received the remains of their late family members in Cuzco, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Authorities turned over to families 26 coffins containing the remains of people from various towns whose body parts were excavated from 250 graves since November. According to Peruvian authorities, the victims, including women, children and village authorities, were killed by both members of the Shining Path militant group and the army between 1980 and 2000, and are among tens of thousands of Peruvians who died during the Maoist-inspired insurgency. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)The Associated Press

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    A woman carries a coffin containing the remains of her slain father after a Mass inside a church in Cuzco Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Authorities turned over to families 26 coffins containing the remains of people from various towns whose body parts were excavated from 250 graves since November. According to Peruvian authorities, the victims, including women, children and village authorities, were killed by both members of the Shining Path militant group and the army between 1980 and 2000, and are among tens of thousands of Peruvians who died during the Maoist-inspired insurgency. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)The Associated Press

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    People place coffins containing the remains of their slain relatives into a truck to be taken to their towns for burial after carrying them in procession to a church in Cuzco, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Authorities turned over to families 26 coffins containing the remains of people from various towns whose body parts were excavated from 250 graves since November. According to Peruvian authorities, the victims, including women, children and village authorities, were killed by both members of the Shining Path militant group and the army between 1980 and 2000, and are among tens of thousands of Peruvians who died during the Maoist-inspired insurgency. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)The Associated Press

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    A woman sits in front of the coffin containing the remains of a relative, one of 26 coffins containing the remains of people from various towns whose bodies were found scattered among 250 graves, at a ceremony where families received the remains of their slain family members in Cuzco, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. According to Peruvian authorities, the victims, including women, children and village authorities, were killed by both members of the Shining Path militant group and the army between 1980 and 2000, and are among tens of thousands of Peruvians who died during the Maoist-inspired insurgency. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)The Associated Press

Authorities in Peru's southern mountains have returned to their families the remains of 26 people killed in fighting between the army and Shining Path rebels in the 1980s.

The remains, including two women and three children, were exhumed from common graves in the Apurimac region late last year. Investigators managed to identify the remains so that they could be returned to their families for burial.

The bodies were handed over in a ceremony in the city of Cuzco on Tuesday. The families carried the remains of their loved ones in white coffins down the stone streets of the city, which serves as the gateway to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

The victims were believed to be local residents and villagers caught in the cross fire between soldiers and rebels, officials said.

Authorities in southeast Peru have been working in recent years to identify common graves left over from the bloody war between Maoist rebels and soldiers as part of an investigation into human rights abuses.

According to Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 69,000 people were killed or disappeared between 1980 and 2000 in Peru's armed conflict.