Mass Grave in Bosnia Holds 540 Bodies of Muslims and Catholics
By: Maud S. Beelman
24 September 1995.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – A mass grave filled with 540 bodies was unearthed in northwestern Bosnia after government forces recaptured the area from rebel Serbs, Bosnia’s prime minister said Saturday.
It was unclear whose bodies were in the grave, but they were believed to be Muslims [Bosniaks] and Croats killed by Bosnian Serbs, said Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic.
The discovery coincided with word of the latest ethnic expulsion by Bosnian Serbs: the driving of almost 500 Muslims [Bosniaks] from another Serb-held town under government attack.
Expulsions have picked up across Bosnia as a peace deal that would separate ethnic groups grows more likely. Violence against civilians has been one of the hallmarks of the four years of war in the Balkans, but tales of horror have grown more intense in recent months as sharp battlefield shifts have sent Muslims [Bosniaks], Croats and Serbs alike fleeing for safety.
Mass graves are “a grim reality that we will be facing while liberating Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Silajdzic told The Associated Press. He said experts were examining the bodies found in Krasulje, near a major road junction about 90 miles northwest of Sarajevo.
Serb atrocities are a chief concern for the Muslim-led government as it decides whether it is paying too heavy a price for a U.S. peace plan, which would give the Serbs nearly half of Bosnia. Talks are scheduled in New York on Tuesday.
Recent offensives by government and Croat forces have stripped large chunks of territory from the Serb rebels, and some Bosnians wonder whether they should try to vanquish the Serbs and avenge atrocities rather than end the war.
Aid workers reported Serbs on Friday drove 480 Muslims [Bosniaks] from the town of Doboj, a key road and rail junction in northern Bosnia that is under increasing attack from the government army.
Many of the Muslims “were given as little as five minutes basically to pack up,” said Kris Janowski of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees.
“Their belongings were stolen. Some of them were beaten up,” he said. All were forced to walk about 13 miles through the forest in the middle of the night, he said.
Some of the Muslims [Bosniaks] claimed old people died on that trek, but the United Nations could not confirm the claims, Janowski said.
Menwhile, aid workers are reporting extreme food shortages in Gorazde, the sole Muslim [Bosniak] enclave left in eastern Bosnia. Almost the entire population of 57,000 is dependent on outside aid and is squeezed into an area too small for much effective cultivation of crops.
On Saturday, an aid convoy arrived with about 100 tons of food and materials needed to survive the winter. The United States is pushing hard to wrap up a peace deal in Bosnia after the warring parties agreed Sept. 8 in Geneva to divide the state, with 51 percent for Muslims [Bosniaks] and Croats and 49 percent for the Serbs.