Bosnia digging up what could be biggest mass grave
TOMASICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Two decades after Serb soldiers conducted house-to-house searches in a campaign of ethnic killings in Bosnia, forensic scientists are digging up what could turn out to be the largest mass grave from the 1992-95 war.
So far, the remains of 360 people have been found at the Tomasica mass grave discovered in September near the northern town of Prijedor, far more than expected, authorities said on Thursday.
The number is expected to rise and could surpass the 629 bodies found at Crni Vrh in Srebrenica.
The Missing Persons' Institute said the Tomasica grave is linked to a secondary one found in 2003 about six miles away, where 373 bodies were extracted. Authorities believe the perpetrators of the killings moved parts of the remains from one grave to the other to hide the crime. In some cases, remains from a person have been found in both graves.
Institute official Mujo Begic said he expects more remains to be found at Tomasica .
“Together with the relocated ones, the number of the bodies here indicates the biggest mass grave so far found in Bosnia,” Begic said.
The grave covers more than 53,820 square feet and is about 30 feet deep.
Tomasica is near Prijedor, which was a site of severe crimes against humanity committed by Christian Orthodox Serbs against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats. Many of the victims were killed in one of the three Nazi-style concentration camps Serb authorities had set up near Prijedor. Authorities hope some of the 1,200 still missing from the area are found in the Tomasica grave. The remains will be identified through DNA matching from samples provided by living relatives.
Most of the victims were killed in their villages and brought to this location to be buried, but teams have also found bullets in the grave, which indicates that some were brought here alive, prosecutor Eldar Jahic said.
Near the grave, Vahida Behlic, 51, was sobbing as she watched forensic experts dressed in white uniforms and green rubber boots carefully lifting bones from the site, where skeletons were piled on top of each other. She came from Slovenia, where she has lived with her family since she escaped her native village of Zecovi, near Prijedor.
Behlic came because she thinks one of the skeletons could be of her mother Fatima, who was shot in front of her house.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ukraine rejects Russia’s call for cease-fire, warns of ‘great war’ against Russian aggressor
- Terror threat not foreign, Cameron tells Brits
- British terror suspects may be stripped of passports
- Ex-Libyan PM tasked with forming new government
- Israel, Hamas accept Gaza war cease-fire
- Guatemalan village expels Jewish group
- Saudi king warns of terrorist threat to Europe, US
- Iraqi forces break militant siege of Shiite town
- China limits options for Hong Kong election
- Clashes between police, protesters violent in Pakistani capital
- Pressure on European Central Bank grows as economic recovery founders