Serbs Killed 3,000 Bosniak Women and Children in May-June 1992
White House Hears Accounts of Serbian Atrocities in Bosnia
Beaver County Times
29 September 1992.
WASHINGTON — Two eyewitnesses say they saw as many as 50 Muslim [Bosniak] prisoners killed at a time at Serb-run detention camps in Bosnia as part of a bloody campaign that eventually claimed 3,000 lives, the State Department says.
The Bush administration believes the atrocities to be the worst of the six-month war. They were said to have taken place in the spring in the northwest city of Brcko, not far from the scene of Serbian air strikes Monday that reportedly left 15 dead and 40 wounded.
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the two Muslim witnesses were former prisoners in a brick factory who independently estimated that 3,000 men, women and children were killed in May and June.
“They claim to have witnessed the spontaneous murders of up to 50 prisoners at a time,” Boucher said.
He said the administration was giving the information to U.N. officials.
Despite these fresh reports of Serbian abuses and scant progress toward peace since an international conference on Yugoslavia a month ago, the administration was holding firm against any more than a limited U.S. military role in the area.
The administration has said it was prepared to use air and naval forces to protect relief supplies sent to the region and it also was considering proposals to use military aircraft to prevent Serbian fighters from penetrating Bosnian air space.
Even though no final decision has been made concerning the latter proposal, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin L. Powell, took the unusual step of publicly signaling his opposition to it.
Rejecting proposals for deeper U.S. military involvement in Bosnia, Powell, in an interview published in Monday’s New York Times, warned that the outcome could be another Lebanon, where U.S. Marines dispatched there in 1983 were not told what their precise mission was.
“Two-hundred forty-one of them died as a result,” he was quoted as saying.
Administration officials expressed surprise Monday at Powell’s comments and said he would be in a difficult position in President Bush decided to impose a “no-fly” zone in Bosnia.
Powell’s comments were made before the State Department announced its conclusions about the alleged atrocities at Brcko.
Boucher said one of the prisoners reported that on several occasions he helped transport bodies of dead prisoners to a local plan where they were cremated.