Serbs Killed 456 Bosniak Civilians in Kevljani Massacre
The small village of Kevljani witnessed horrendous acts of massacres during the Bosnian genocide. The village is within walking distance of Omarska mine where, in 1992, an estimated 6,000 local Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys, together with women, were detained, interrogated, tortured, raped, starved and many of them killed by Serbian nationalist camp guards.
Keraterm, Omarska, Manjaca and Trnopolje would still be obscure corners of Bosnia, were it not for the daily confirmation of terrifying crimes committed there by Serbs during the 1992 to 1995 Bosnian genocide.
On 24 May 1992, Serb forces attacked the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) village of Stari Kevljani, which was part of the Omarska region.
Many prisoners were brought from Omarska and surrounding hamlets and villages to Stari Kevljani, lined up, executed, and thrown onto a pile of bodies in – what became – one of the largest mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the Serb attack on Stari Kevljani on 24 May 1992, approximately 300 Bosniak civilians were killed in a massacre. Majority of detained women and underage girls were kept as sexual slaves for Serb soldiers who brutally raped and impregnated them; by the 7th month of their pregnancy, they were released to bear Serb children.
In the coming months many prisoners from nearby concentration camps were also brought in small groups to Stari Kevljani, executed and dumped in the mass grave.
At Kevljani, bodies had been buried in the soil. Holes had been dug and bodies had been buried and then covered over. Dr. Eva Klonowski directed exhumation of victims from the Stari Kevljani mass grave. She is a forensic anthropologist who works for the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
Dr. Klonowski also directed and oversaw the recovery of the bodies from the nearby cave in Kevljani. The cave was approximately 50 feet deep. In the cave, bodies had simply been thrown down so they were lying on the top of a pile in the middle of the cave.
Kevljani mass grave is one of 51 found in the area around Prijedor where Serb forces established death camps for the Bosniak and Croat civilians.
Some 3,200 Bosnian Muslim civilians — men, women and children — from the Prijedor area, where Keraterm, Omarska and Trnopolje are located, are still listed as missing.
Azim, a Bosniak man in his forties, lives just some 500m from the Kevljani mass grave with his wife and two young sons.
“I would leave at once,” he said. “It’s horrible to live near the mass grave. But we are too poor and we have no other place to go.”