Vitez massacres in Central Bosnia claim lives of 172 Bosniaks
In the early morning of April 16, 1993 at about 5:45 to 6:00 a.m. Bosniak areas of Vitez and Krušćica were attacked by Croat artillery, which increased during the morning and included mortar fire of various calibre.
It was the first coordinated offensive in the area with attacks happening simultaneously up and down the valley.
According to professional military opinion of a British colonel, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) had been taken by surprise. Croatian Defence Council (HVO) soldiers in camouflage uniforms entered the streets of Vitez, arresting Bosniaks and killing them in their apartments.
The prominent Bosniaks of the town were arrested. Anto Breljaš, a former member of the Vitezovi Unit, said that the Viteška Brigade of HVO and the Vitezovi attacked Stari Vitez but the Vitezovi did not take part in the Ahmici massacre as a unit, although one or two individuals may have done so. Croat forces slaughtered 120 Bosniak civilians in the Ahmici massacre.
The two villages of Donja Večeriska and Gornja Večeriska near Vitez were attacked on April 16, 1993. On the night of April 15, 1993, most Croats left Donja Večeriska. Nonetheless, an attack was not expected by Bosniaks since the Croats had evacuated the village several times before.
The shelling started at 5:30 a.m. with an anti-aircraft gun shooting from the factory nearby. Grenades were thrown into the houses and the residents and others were then arrested and beaten. The majority of Bosniak houses were burned. At least eight persons were killed in the attack and the village was destroyed by explosives and fire.
The fighting in Vitez continued after April 16, 1993. The old town of Stari Vitez (or Mahala as it called) remained in Bosnian government hands. However, the HVO surrounded it and subjected it to siege and attack from April 1993 to February 1994. The period was characterized by confrontations of varying intensity, in particular by a violent attack on July 18, 1993 when a great many homemade weapons known as “baby bombs” were fired on Stari Vitez and killed many Bosniaks. That quarter of the town was also targeted by multi-tube rocket-launchers and mortars.
On April 18, 1993 a tanker containing 500 kilograms of explosives exploded near the mosque in Stari Vitez, destroying the offices of the Bosnian War Presidency, killing at least six people and injuring 50 others. The ICTY accepted that this action was a piece of pure terrorism committed by elements within the Croat forces, as an attack on the Bosniak population of Stari Vitez.
In all, 172 Bosniaks in the Vitez municipality were killed and 5,000 expelled, (1,200 having been detained): 420 buildings were destroyed, together with three mosques, two Muslim seminaries and two schools.