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Remains at a mass grave in Spain were likely killed by the Franco regime in 1936

The remains of three or four people shot by the Franco regime as part of its coup at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 have been unearthed by archaeologists. 

A team from the University of Granada has been working since the start of April to excavate mass graves in the Barranco de Viznar, just north of the city of Granada. 

They found the first human remains after a few weeks of digging, saying they could belong to three or four people shot between August and October 1936.

During the coup to overthrow the Spanish Republic, that led to the Spanish Civil War, nationalists led by Francisco Franco fought against Republicans for control of the country, killing thousands of people that stood against them.

They buried those they killed, including mayors, poets, opposition politicians, socialists and academics in a series of mass graves throughout the country.

The team say the Barranco de Viznar, a ravine between Viznar and Alfacar in Granada, is thought to be the site of one of these mass graves. 

It's hoped that by excavating the site they will be able to identify the remains and help bring closure to people still searching for relatives lost during the civil war. 

An interdisciplinary team led by the University of Granada (UGR) has been working for a few weeks on the excavation of mass graves in the Barranco de Viznar

The team have located the first human remains, which could correspond to three or four people who were shot between August and October 1936

During the coup to overthrow the Spanish Republic, that led to the Spanish Civil War, nationalists led by Francisco Franco, fought against Republicans for control of the country, and as part of that hundreds were shot and buried in mass graves

MASS GRAVES FOUND THROUGHOUT SPAIN 

Efforts to uncover the history of mass graves and the people killed by the Franco regime are designed in part to shed light on the nations bloody past.

It is also hoped they will bring closer to relatives still searching for family members killed by the regime.

There are believed to be more than 2,000 mass burial sites across Spain from the civil war. 

The Spanish Civil War was started on July 18, 1936, when a group of officers attempted to overthrow the left-wing Popular Front government in a military coup. 

This resulted in a four year tug of war between the two sides and resulted in a nation torn apart, leaving 500,000 people dead and caused an additional 450,000 to flee their homeland altogether. 

General Francisco Franco led the group of right-wing nationalists who emerged victorious in 1939, purging conquered areas of any leftist opposition.

To understand more about the historical context of their deaths, a project was initiated to excavate the graves and learn more about the people that were killed.

The human remains were found in a ravine within the dig site, known as sector one, where bullet shells have previously been uncovered by the Granada team.

So far they have only examined the first grave, where they expect to find up to ten bodies, all likely to have been executed due to bullets found inside the grave. 

The team will take them back to the laboratory for further analysis, where they will attempt to uncover more about them, their lives and their cause of death.

Francisco Carrión, lead on the excavation project, said they are working on the remains in a bid to be able to identify their sex, age and date of death.

This lab work could also reveal pathologies and violent traumas that they may have gone through in life, with samples providing later genetic identification. 

The nationalists are thought to have executed a range of political and important figures including mayors, provincial deputies and a university rector. 

The field work involves excavating graves in sectors 1 and 2 of the ravine to recover any human remains, and keep working until funding runs out. 

The project is funded by a €28,000 (£24,000) grant from the Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, and a €18,000 (£15,600) from the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. 

When the money runs out, the team will prepare the site to make future excavations, including work to exhume a well used as a common grave, easier.

In a nearby area, not linked to this discovery but from around the same time, poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, an outspoken socialist, was murdered by nationalist forces, dying as a result of 'wounds caused by an act of war'.

His remains have never been uncovered, although it is thought they could be resting in a different mass grave, similar to the one at Barranco de Viznar.    

In 2017, archaeologists uncovered mass graves in the city of Valladolid, filled with the bodies of people killed by Franco's regime.

The team say the Barranco de Viznar, a ravine between Viznar and Alfacar in Granada, is thought to be the site of one of these mass graves, housing hundreds

It's hoped that by excavating the site they will be able to identify the remains and help bring closer to people still searching for relatives lost during the civil war

To understand more about the historical context of their deaths, a project was initiated to excavate the graves and learn more about the people that were killed

Efforts to uncover the history of these mass graves and the people killed are designed in part to shed light on the nations bloody past and bring closer to relatives still searching for family members.  

These graves are believed to be among more than 2,000 mass burial sites thought to exist across Spain from the civil war. 

Historians estimate as many as 500,000 combatants and civilians were killed on the Republican and Nationalist sides in the war. 

The human remains were found in a ravine within the dig site, known as sector one, where bullet shells have previously been uncovered by the Granada team

The team will take them back to the laboratory for further analysis, where they will attempt to uncover more about them, their lives and their cause of death

So far they have only examined the first grave, where they expect to find up to ten bodies, all likely to have been executed due to bullets found inside the grave

After it ended, tens of thousands of Franco's enemies were killed or imprisoned in a campaign to wipe out dissent.

The Spanish Civil War was started on July 18, 1936, when a group of officers attempted to overthrow the left-wing Popular Front government in a military coup. 

This resulted in a four year tug of war between the two sides and resulted in a nation torn apart, leaving 500,000 people dead and caused an additional 450,000 to flee their homeland altogether. 

General Francisco Franco led the group of right-wing nationalists who emerged victorious in 1939, purging conquered areas of any leftist opposition.

THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AND GENERAL FRANCO

The Spanish Civil War was started on July 18, 1936, when a group of officers attempted to overthrow the left-wing Popular Front government in a military coup.

This resulted in a four year tug of war between the two sides and resulted in a nation torn apart. 

It left 500,000 people dead and caused an additional 450,000 to flee their homeland altogether. 

General Francisco Franco led the group of right-wing nationalists who emerged victorious in 1939. 

The war became known for its atrocities, with Franco purging conquered areas of any leftist opposition.

It was a habit that continued as he ruled Spain with an iron fist as a brutal dictator for more than 30 years.

In that time he killed up to 50,000 of his own countrymen and crushed any opposition, until his death in 1975.

The war was portrayed as a struggle between democracy and Fascism.

The Nationalist forces received munitions and soldiers from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while the communist Soviet Union and socialist Mexico offered support to the Republican (Loyalist) side.

During Franco's reign of political oppression, trade unions and opposition parties were banned and thousands were forced to flee the country.

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