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El Calabozo massacre
Part of the El Salvador Civil War
Location El Calabozo, San Vicente Department, El Salvador
Date August 21–22, 1982
Deaths more than 200[1]
Assailants Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army


The El Calabozo massacre was an incident during the Salvadoran Civil War on August 21–22 1982, in which more than two hundred people, including children and elderly, were reportedly killed at El Calabozo by the Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army. In August 1982, the Salvadoran military attacked the San Vicente Department, an area where the rebel Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front was known to have bases. The department was bombed for several days before ground forces advanced, causing many civilians to flee.[1] On the night of August 21, a group of internally displaced people was overtaken beside the Amatitán river by the Atlacatl Battalion, a US-trained counter-insurgency unit.[2] The Atlacatl Battalion had previously been responsible for the El Mozote massacre, in which up to 900 captured civilians had been killed.[3] At a spot called "El Calabozo" ("The Dungeon"), the battalion surrounded the IDPs and opened fire at close range.[1] The soldiers threw some of the bodies into the river and reportedly threw acid on others, making an exact death toll impossible to confirm, but more than two hundred were reported missing after the incident by surviving family members. The dead included infants and elderly.[1][2]

The massacre was first publicly reported in The Washington Post on September 8, 1982. Minister of Defense José Guillermo García stated that the government had investigated the incident and determined that no massacre had taken place.[4] In 1992, survivors filed a complaint with authorities asking for an investigation. Though the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador documented the massacre's existence, the government closed the case in 1993 without charges.[2] As of 2012, the Salvadoran government had not acknowledged the existence of the massacre or prosecuted those responsible.[5]

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