The government of El Salvador has apologized for one of the worst atrocities committed during the small Central American nation’s bloody civil war – the December 1981 massacre in the town El Mozote which killed more than 1,000 people, almost half of them children.

The victims, accused of collaborating with leftist insurgents, were murdered in cold blood by a battalion called the Atlacatl, which has since been disbanded by the state.

The battalion reportedly also committed acts of torture and rape on the unarmed civilians.

The country’s Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez appeared at a ceremony in Mozote where he condemned the blindness of state violence.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate on behalf of the government of El Salvador our request for forgiveness to the thousands of innocent victims, but especially the victims of the massacre at El Mozote, he said.

This event seeks to honor the memory of hundreds of innocent people who were murdered 30 years ago here in El Mozote and in nearby towns.’

Murders reportedly also took place in adjacent villages of La Joya, Rancheria and Los Toriles.

BBC reported that the people behind the mass killings were never brought to trial nor punished because a general amnesty was declared in 1992 as part of negotiations the end the civil war.

For a dozen years throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, more than 75,000 people are believed to have been killed during El Salvador’s civil war. Another 7,000 remain missing.

 The nation is now ruled by Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, a coalition of former leftist guerrilla groups who were elected two years ago. The President, Mauricio Funes is the country's first democratically-elected leftist president since the civil war.