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Prayers for Srebrenica dead

SARAJEVO Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Thousands of Bosnian Muslims have commemorated the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Many were in tears as five women who lost most male members of their family unveiled the foundation stone to a memorial for the 8,000 victims of Europe's worst single atrocity since World War II.

More than 5,000 relatives of victims in 105 buses made the trip -- the biggest number of Muslims to visit the site since the 1992-5 war.

The three-ton marker with the simple inscription: "Srebrenica, July 1995" stands in a cornfield that will be turned into a cemetery for the reburial of massacre victims. Britain paid its $4,900 cost.

graphicSrebrenica: Five days of evil

  • Survivor's Story
  • Gallery
  • Massacre background
  • Rebuilding Srebrenica
  • Prayers for the dead
  • Grief of the widows
  • Mass grave found
  • War crimes defendants
  • Profile: Radko Mladic
  • Profile: Radovan Karadzic


On July 11 1995, Serb forces overran the United Nations "safe zone" of Srebrenica, where they systematically executed men and boys while expelling the rest of the Muslim population.

Tight security was in place for the ceremony. Because of recent Serb violence against Muslims in Bosnia, nearly 1,300 local policemen lined the road into town as a convoy carried Muslims back to the scene.

International police units and hundreds of heavily armed U.S. peacekeepers with tanks and Humvees were deployed throughout the area.

Several U.S. surveillance helicopters and Blackhawk choppers were patrolling the area, which is in the U.S. sector of responsibility.

Since the end of the war, tribunal experts and the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons have exhumed the remains of about 4,800 victims, of whom only about 100 have been identified.

Amor Masovic, head of the commission, said: "By the end of the year, we are planning to exhume 1,000 more bodies.

"Now, with DNA analysis, we will be able to identify 200 Srebrenica victims per month, but we will need a long time to complete the process and give them a proper burial."

Up to 8,000 were reported missing and are presumed to have been killed by Serb forces, either in cold blood or as they tried to flee.

Munira Subasic, who lost 22 male members of her family in the Srebrenica massacre, including her husband, son and father, unveiled the cornerstone with four other relatives of the dead.

"For us time stopped on that day," she said.

The mourners travelled through the village of Bratunac, whose Serb residents believe they were the real victims of the war, citing attacks by Muslim forces early in the conflict.

Last year a smaller commemoration passed peacefully, but Serbs in Bratunac stoned some of the Muslim buses as they headed to Srebrenica.

Serb nationalists rioted in May in the Bosnian Serb de-facto capital, Banja Luka, during a ceremony to mark the beginning of rebuilding a historic mosque that was destroyed during the war.

The day after the Srebrenica ceremony, local Serbs will launch construction of their own monument nearby, for 1,300 Serbs they say were killed in the area during the war.

The remains of some 4,500 Srebrenica victims are stored in the nearby town of Tuzla, in Bosnia's Muslim-Croat half. They will be buried in the meadow near the town after DNA tests to try to identify them. Two hundred more were unearthed just this month.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic, indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the massacre, are believed to be at large somewhere in the mountainous wilds of Serb-controlled eastern Bosnia.

• International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
• Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Srebrenica

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