Bosnian Muslim Survivor of the Cerska Massacre (1993) Hid Under Corpses
Survivor Tells of Massacre in Eastern Bosnia
6 March 1993.
ZAGREB, Croatia — A Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] refugee in eastern Bosnia told a ham radio operator Friday that he survived a Serb massacre because corpses fell on him and protected him from gunfire.
This and other accounts of a massacre Wednesday of scores of people near the embattled Cerska region could not be confirmed. Ham radio and U.N. officials have cited many reports of Serb atrocities during an offensive that began Sunday, but reporters are unable to enter the Serb-besieged area to investigate.
According to the various accounts, Serb gunmen unleashed a barrage of gunfire and grenades on a group of about 100 refugees near Mount Rogasija.
One report Thursday said eight people died, 20 were injured and 80 captured. More convincing reports have said only a few people survived of a group of 100 who made a desperate bid to cross the front line.
The report by a Bosniak refugee identified as Besim Topalovic was received in Zagreb by ham radio operators Nenad Unukic. According to the account Unukic said he got from Topalovic, the man was one of only three survivors of the assault who made it back to the nearby village of Konjevic Polje.
Topalovic said about 900 people tried to flee to Tuzla, a relief center to the north. Topalovic joined about 200 people who split off to head toward Muslim-held territory close to Zvornik.
That group later split in two, Topalovic said. He knew nothing of the fate of the other two groups. He said his group was walking in single file, cautiously advancing to avoid mines, when men in white uniforms with black caps leaped out and opened fire with grenade launchers and machine guns.
A hand grenade exploded close to Topalovic, but two corpses, cut down by gunfire, fell on top of him.
He said he later crawled out from under the bodies, made his way to a small brook and collapsed. When he awoke, shivering, hours later, he saw the remains of many people who had been walking with him, Topalovic said.
Topalovic returned to Konjevic Polje early Thursday with wounds on his legs, neck and arms, which he said were caused by a hand grenade.