Remains of soldiers killed during 1964 Turkish bombing discovered in Pachyammos
CNA - Antonios Gkildakis - CYPRUS/Nicosia 11/11/2019
The remains and personal items, possibly belonging to a number of National Guard soldiers, killed during the 1964 aerial bombardment of the Tylliria area by Turkey, have been discovered at the site of a former makeshift hospital in Pachyammos, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou has said.
Cypriot scientists started excavating the site on October 9, with the National Guard demining unit contributing in the process.
Speaking to CNA, Photiou said that samples have been sent to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) for DNA tests and the results are expected this week.
Exhumations, which are part of the programme of the Republic of Cyprus, are ongoing, and as Photiou said, the process is both difficult and time-consuming, due to explosives buried in the area.
We are taking all precautions in order to ensure the safety of all scientists and residents and to secure the findings, Photiou added.
Speaking to CNA, the Presidential Commissioner pointed to the relevant decision, adopted by the Cabinet, to start excavating for fallen soldiers who died during the Turkish napalm bombings of the Pachyammos makeshift hospital, in August 1964.
“The Cabinet decision concerns three excavation sites, the area of the Pachyammos hospital and two areas in the Panayia Chrysopateritissa cemetery” he said. He spoke moreover of burial sites at the Paphos cemetery, containing bodies attributed to nursing staff.
After the necessary research and planning, it was decided to start excavating the site of the National Guard makeshift hospital first, Photiou said.
“This is a very difficult excavation because, according to various testimonies and pieces of information we received, explosives were also stored in the broader area” the Presidential Commissioner said.
He noted that the evidence so far confirmed this information, as the crew discovered explosives within the trench, slowing down the excavation process.
“For transparency reasons I would like to announce the discovery of human remains and personal items that were found during the excavations. The bones found belong possibly to a number of persons. From the indications we have, the remains belong possibly to National Guard members” Photiou noted.
He said moreover that samples have been sent to CING to conduct DNA tests and ascertain the quality of the remains, as well as for identification purposes, with the latter expected within this week.
According to the Presidential Commissioner, excavations by Cypriot scientists and the National Guard demining unit are ongoing.
“I would like to stress once more that this is a difficult and time-consuming process, therefore we are taking all necessary measures in order to complete the task safely and successfully” he underlined.
He expressed finally his sympathy to the families of fallen persons, assuring them that they are doing everything possible under adverse circumstances, in order to provide them with the answers they are entitled to concerning the fate of their beloved ones, thus helping them to close this painful chapter.