World

Turkey grants access to military-held areas in Cyprus accelerating missing persons search

  • FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2010 file photo, a skull and bullets are shown at the Anthropological Laboratory, inside the United Nations controlled buffer zone in the divided capital of Nicosia, Cyprus.  A committee searching for missing persons on the war-divided island of Cyprus says on Thursday Nov. 5, 2015, Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected grave sites in military-controlled areas in northern Cyprus — a move that will significantly speed up exhumation work.

    FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2010 file photo, a skull and bullets are shown at the Anthropological Laboratory, inside the United Nations controlled buffer zone in the divided capital of Nicosia, Cyprus. A committee searching for missing persons on the war-divided island of Cyprus says on Thursday Nov. 5, 2015, Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected grave sites in military-controlled areas in northern Cyprus — a move that will significantly speed up exhumation work.  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Feb. 18, 2009 file photo, a forensics expert examines the exhumed remains of individuals who had disappeared in the 1960s and 1970s,  at an anthropological laboratory inside the United Nations controlled buffer zone , in the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus. A committee searching for missing persons on the war-divided island of Cyprus says on Thursday Nov. 5, 2015, Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected grave sites in military-controlled areas in northern Cyprus — a move that will significantly speed up exhumation work.  (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

    FILE- In this Feb. 18, 2009 file photo, a forensics expert examines the exhumed remains of individuals who had disappeared in the 1960s and 1970s, at an anthropological laboratory inside the United Nations controlled buffer zone , in the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus. A committee searching for missing persons on the war-divided island of Cyprus says on Thursday Nov. 5, 2015, Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected grave sites in military-controlled areas in northern Cyprus — a move that will significantly speed up exhumation work. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)  (The Associated Press)

A committee searching for missing persons on the war-divided island of Cyprus says Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected grave sites in military-controlled areas in northern Cyprus — a move that will significantly speed up exhumation work.

Paul-Henri Arni, the U.N.-appointed member of the Committee on Missing Persons, told the Associated Press on Thursday that will accelerate the work threefold to an estimated three years. He said it's important to move ahead because many witnesses with information on such graves are dying fast.

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. In the last decade, the remains of 1,020 people have been exhumed, representing just over half all people who have been declared missing.