Thursday 27 November 2014

Bosnia floods unearth grim wartime mass grave

Published 03/06/2014 | 18:57

Coffins are seen inside a funeral services showroom in the aftermath of floods in Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade May 20, 2014. The Balkans were hit by the worst floods in living memory last month, and the death toll has climbed gradually as more victims are found, reaching some 65 in total in Serbia and Bosnia. As the waters retreat, a wave of solidarity has given way to questions about the readiness and response of authorities to the heaviest rainfall in the region in over a century. Serbians and Bosnians are asking if so many had to die. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimates the damage in Serbia at up to two billion euros ($2.7 billion), or seven percent of national output, and 1.3 billion ($1.8 billion) euros in Bosnia, or 10 percent of output. Picture taken May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica (SERBIA  - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) 

ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 20 OF 21 FOR PACKAGE 'FLOODS KNOW NO BORDERS'. TO FIND ALL IMAGES SEARCH 'BALKANS FLOODS'
Coffins are seen inside a funeral services showroom in the aftermath of floods in Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade

Floods in Bosnia last month have unearthed a secret mass grave containing corpses with hands tied behind their backs, apparently Muslim Bosniak victims of the country's 1992-1995 war, an official said on Tuesday.

"We unearthed four complete bodies whose hands were tied behind their backs and two incomplete bodies today," said Lejla Cengic, spokeswoman of the government's Institute for Missing Persons, adding that exhumations will continue.

Forensic experts are combing the banks of the Bosna river for another six victims still missing from a group of 16 killed by Bosnian Serb forces nearby, Cengic said. Four other victims from the group were found nearby during earlier exhumations.

Devastating floods across Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia last month struck particularly hard in the central and northern parts of impoverished Bosnia, submerging completely the central towns of Doboj and Maglaj and northern towns of Samac and Orasje.

"We assume the victims are Bosniaks from the nearby village Jablanica, the men aged from 19 to 57," Cengic said as bulldozers removed mud from the river bank and forensic experts cleared garbage and branches from the site.

Electricity workers repairing power lines on the outskirts of the town found some victims' remains after flood waters that reached up to three metres high in Doboj receded.

Some 35,000 people went missing in Bosnia during the war. About 8,000 are still unaccounted for while 1,000 have been found but not identified yet, Cengic said.

Doboj is located on the border demarcating Bosnia's two autonomous regions established after the war, the Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Bosniaks and Croats.

The town belongs to the Serb region but its southern part is in the Federation. When the Bosna river burst its banks, the first help came from the nearby towns in the Federation spared from the flooding. At least nine people drowned in the flooding.

Reuters

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