Bosnian mass graves held 18,000 bodies

Bosnian authorities have exhumed more than 18,000 bodies from over 300 mass graves since the country's civil war ended in 1995.

    The Bosnian war claimed more than 200,000 lives

    Bosnia's largest known mass grave near Zvornik in the east contained the remains of 629 people believed to have been Muslim civilians who were executed when Bosnian Serb forces captured the area at the outset of the war.

    The remains of more than 3500 people have been found around the eastern town of Srebrenica.

    Executions

    In just a few days following the takeover of Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, more than 7000 Muslim men and boys were summarily executed.

    Srebrenica came to symbolize the brutality of the Bosnian war, that claimed some 200,000 lives and left 2.2 million refugees.

    Sixty mass burial sites that had been found around Srebrenica were so-called "secondary' graves where Bosnian Serbs brought bodies from other locations to cover up the slaughter.

    Amor Masovic, the head of the Muslim commission for missing people said the youngest victim found in a mass grave was a two-day-old Muslim baby and the oldest was a Muslim woman of over 100 years.

    Identification

    So far, 11,500 exhumed bodies have been identified.

    DNA testing has immensely helped in identifying the skeletal remains.

    Set up by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the testing includes a sophisticated database matching victims' DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, with that from blood samples of living relatives.

    The ICMP was set up in 1996 with the aim of assisting tens of thousands of families hoping to find out what happened to their loves ones once they went missing during the war.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates the number of missing at some 20,500. But the ICMP says the figure could be as high as 30,000.

    SOURCE: AFP


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