Evidence Indicates Bosnia Massacre
Eyewitness report supports charges by US of killings
NOVA KASABA, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
AN on-the-spot investigation by The Christian Science Monitor has uncovered strong evidence that a massacre of Bosnian Muslim prisoners took place last month.Skip to next paragraph
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A Monitor reporter, traveling without the permission of rebel Bosnian Serbs, looked into charges by American officials that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims were killed by the Serbs after they overran two UN-protected "safe areas."
The Serbs deny the US charges, which were based on spy-satellite photos.
The visit by this reporter was the first by a Western journalist to the sites of the alleged atrocities near the former safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa. The physical evidence was grim and convincing:
*At one site shown in the spy photos this reporter saw what appeared to be a decomposing human leg protruding from the freshly turned dirt.
*Large, empty ammunition boxes littered the open fields where the ground recently had been dug.
*Diplomas, photos, and other personal effects of Srebrenica Muslims were scattered near the areas of disturbed earth.
*At a soccer stadium in a nearby town, human feces, blood, and other evidence indicated large numbers of persons were confined, and perhaps shot.
UN officials estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 Muslim men are still missing in the wake of the Srebrenica and Zepa assaults. So far there is little indication that these men are being held prisoner. Dozens of local Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers, most of them unaware they were speaking to a foreign journalist's translator, said they had heard nothing about a large group of captives from the former enclaves.
According to Bosnian Serb troops, all Muslims captured in the area are being summarily executed. One soldier, reporting to his commanding officers in Nova Kasaba, said a group of more than 300 Muslims who were armed with only 50 guns are still hiding in the hills around the village of Cerska, near Zepa.
The soldier proudly declared that his unit had captured seven of these Muslims last Saturday and killed two. "We're going back to catch the group tomorrow," said the soldier. "We just talk to them and then shoot them."
US officials first made public charges about alleged atrocities by Bosnian Serbs in this area on Aug. 10. In a closed session of the UN Security Council, US ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright said that as many as 2,700 Bosnian Muslims might have been hastily executed and buried in shallow graves.
In a dramatic presentation of evidence, Ms. Albright displayed spy plane and satellite photos of an area in the small farming village of Nova Kasaba, about 14 miles west of Srebrenica. "Before" photos showed prisoners crowded into a soccer field and undisturbed earth in an empty field a half mile away. "After" photos from a few days later show no prisoners and three areas of disturbed earth in outlaying fields that resemble mass graves.
In addition, US officials cited the account of an elderly Muslim refugee, who said that he had been one of 600 men held at the Nova Kasaba soccer field. Bosnian Serb soldiers trucked the Muslim men in groups of 20 to a nearby field and machine gunned them, said the refugee, who escaped when he was left for dead among the corpses. The bodies of hundreds of men were then bulldozed into mass graves, according to the refugee's account.
During a reporter's visit to the site this Wednesday, three areas of fresh digging were clearly visible. On the edge of the smallest of the three alleged mass graves, what appeared to be a human femur and tibia surrounded by bits of tattered fabric jutted from rich brown dirt.
One hundred yards from the second-largest grave, handwritten notes from a March 14, 1995, local government meeting in the village of Potocari, located inside the former UN "safe area" of Srebrenica, were found. Twenty feet from the same grave, a 1982 elementary school diploma and what appeared to be washed-out personal photographs of a Muslim youth from the village of Kravice, also near Srebrenica, were found.
Approximately a quarter mile from the three sites, Muslim prayer beads, clothing, and still legible receipts and election ballots from Srebrenica were found.
Two empty ammunition boxes, each of which appeared to hold several hundred rounds, were seen near the three sites. A handful of shell casings was found across the street from one of the sites, but few shell casings were found on the graves themselves. Truck and bulldozer tracks leading to the alleged graves were visible.
The largest alleged grave measured roughly 300 feet by 300 feet, the second 250 feet by 200 feet, and the smallest 100 by 50 feet. And about a half mile from the sites, two large piles of fresh earth had been dumped near a small stream.