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Updated Feb 19, 2020

The remains of more than 6,000 people were found in six mass grave sites in Burundi, the largest discovery since the government launched excavations in January to help the central African nation come to terms with its violent past. The country’s civil war, which lasted from 1993 to 2005, resulted in the death of an estimated 300,000 people and the displacement of millions more. Burundi’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, said it had found the bodies alongside thousands of bullets, and have used eyeglasses, rosaries, and clothes to identify some of the victims.

Established in 2014, the government-run commission was tasked with investigating atrocities committed in Burundi from 1885, when the German Empire colonized the region, through 2008, when a peace deal designed to end the civil war was formally implemented. The commission has mapped about 4,000 mass grave sites and identified more than 142,000 victims of colonial and/or state violence. Its mandate does not cover human rights abuses under President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005.

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