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>> Colombia's five-decade guerilla war killed more than 220,000 people. At least 52,000 went missing and most are presumed dead. But the 2016 peace agreement between the government and FARC militants has created a new opportunity for relatives to learn the fate of the disappeared. And state of the art genetic software could unlock new answers.
Reuters' correspondent Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota.>> The search for Colombia's disappeared is really complicated. There were dozens of rebel and paramilitary groups which took people. Sometimes because they thought innocent people were collaborating with their enemies. And many times for unknown reasons. The armed forces also disappeared people, especially after the government began paying bonuses to military units based on their number of supposed rebel kills.
>> Bones exhumed from unmarked graves are brought here to the Attorney General's office in the capital Bogota. They are bagged and labelled then laid out and examines. Often the cause of death is clear. Columbia for more than 15 years has used to program called CODIS, which can identify a relative using the DNA of that person's parent or offspring.
But the remains of a 33-year-old man who died 30 years ago before fathering offspring poses a challenge if his parents have since died. A new version of CODIS donated by the FBI could widen the net. The latest software constructs family trees using samples from extended relatives. The government now has a database of more than 35,000 samples.
And so far they've cataloged 3,600 unidentified bodies.>> Finding bodies to add to the system is difficult. Many people are buried in rural areas, and finding them depends on testimony from former fighters whose memories have faded. So far, CODIS has turned up 156 matches. It may not seem like much, but for the family of a missing loved one, it can offer closure.