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World - Europe

Kosovo village buries its many dead

Ethnic Albanian mourners from the village of Bela Crkva bury loved ones, who they say were killed by Serbian police forces while trying to hide

Russian peacekeepers arrive in Kosovo

Focus on
A funeral was held for the victims of a massacre in Bela Crkva. The victims were found in a mass grave investigated by war crimes experts. CNN's Nic Robertson reports (July 6)
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Rebuilding Kosovo
Focus on Kosovo

July 6, 1999
Web posted at: 10:06 a.m. EDT (1406 GMT)

By Correspondent Nic Robertston

BELA CRKVA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- One of seven villages listed on an international war crimes indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Bela Crkva is the first to bury its dead since refugees returned.

The whole village, or what is left of it, turned out for the ceremony on Monday.

The grieving held up a row of portraits of the dead, as others walked by in a solemn procession.

Sixty-five people lost their lives, including seven children, one of them 4 years old; and three women, one of them 60. The remainder were men.

All had tried to hide when they were shot by Serbian police forces, according to war crimes investigators who just completed their study of the dead.

Mourners, including many from neighboring villages, filed past the shattered mosque and up a hill to a cemetery overlooking the village.

The dead were laid to rest with Albanian flags as a vivid contrast to the black plastic bags covering the bodies.

Men sweated and toiled, the midday sun making their task more difficult. But many hands helped. And the cemetery became a field of flowers as bouquets were placed on the graves.

Amid the collective sea of sorrow, the survivors struggled to comfort one another. Arieta grieved with Lulieta at the loss of Murharem, her brother and Lulieta's husband.

Like many, Arieta mourned for more than one victim. At the graveside of Shemci, her father, she broke down in tears.

In a final goodbye, Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers salute the dead in the town of Bela Crkva  

"No, I don't want to go," she protested, her mother looking on. Then she sat by her grandfather's grave, quietly running her hand over the dirt.

All three of her late relatives had been killed in one Serb assault.

In a synchronized salute, six uniformed Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers fire their guns together into the air. After a final goodbye, the graveyard becomes tranquil.

But for some there is no peace. Many in surrounding villages say they have yet to find their dead relatives.

Russian troops cleared to travel to Kosovo
July 5, 1999
Thousands rally for change in Yugoslav government
July 5, 1999
NATO staff heads to Moscow for Kosovo peacekeeping talks
July 4, 1999
NATO blocks entry of more Russian troops into Kosovo
July 3, 1999
Two shot dead by British troops during 'Republic Day' celebration
July 3, 1999

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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