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Remains of people killed in Athalassa hospital bombing identified

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The remains of six Greek Cypriots and a Turkish Cypriot who had died in a bombing at the Athalassa psychiatric hospital during the Turkish invasion in July 1974, have been identified through DNA testing, commissioner for humanitarian issues, Fotis Fotiou said on Tuesday.

A number of hospital inmates, including three Turkish Cypriots, were reportedly buried there after being killed during an air raid.

Although the authorities were searching for the remains of 31 people during excavations last year, only 11 were found.

The authorities received information that some of those 31 were later buried at a Nicosia cemetery.

Fotiou said there are indications as to the identity of remains of five more people who were located at the Athalassa site but further tests will be carried out “to be sure.”

Efforts are also underway to identify all skeletal remains located at the Athalassa hospital site.

When the identification of those remains is completed, he said, authorities will look into the case of seven persons that, according to information, had been buried at the cemetery of the Saints Constantinos and Eleni in Pallouriotissa. These individuals, two of whom were among the 31 missing, were believed to be patients of the hospital, Fotiou said.

“Unfortunately, there are is no personal information for the other five,” Fotiou said.

In total 33 people were killed during the bombings at the hospital – 31 patients, a nurse and a soldier. The bodies of the latter two had been delivered to their families for burial.

“We are at the end of another difficult effort. Our goal is to heal another wound that has been tormenting so many families for almost half a century,” Fotiou said.

He added that the Republic of Cyprus is doing what it can to provide answers to the families of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons and called on Turkey to “cooperate to solve a humanitarian problem.”

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