2,700 civilians 'butchered by Serb gunmen'

US alleges Srebrenica massacre
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The Independent Online
Bosnian Serbs massacred up to 2,700 Muslim civilians and buried them in mass graves after they captured the United Nations-designated "safe area" of Srebrenica last month, according to eight satellite photographs and eyewitness accounts presented to the Security Council by the American ambassador to the UN yesterday.

Addressing a closed council meeting, Madeleine Albright set forth what she called "compelling'' evidence of "widescale atrocities committed ... against defenseless civilians''. They include an eyewitness account of a survivor of the massacre, a photograph of 600 people being held in a football field at Novo Kasaba outside the town and "before and after" reconnaissance photos of a large tree-lined field believed to be a burial site, first with the ground intact and then with the soil disturbed where a 100sq yd hole had been dug and then refilled. It is believed to have been taken on about 13 July, two days after the fall of Srebrenica.

"There were high level Bosnian Serb military people present," Ms Albright said, adding that "this is clearly a case that needs to be investigated further by the war crimes tribunal".

Ms Albright quoted refugee accounts of how General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander, addressed the Muslim captives every day, promising first safety and then "a bloody feast". On one occasion, on 13 or 14 July, he warned 1,000 refugees would be killed for every Serb who died.

According to the survivor, a man aged 63, the refugees were taken from the holding area in groups of 20 to 25 and machine-gunned to death. In all, 2,200 to 2,700 bodies are believed to be in mass graves in the area.

The new information, told to a team led by Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck, confirms several accounts of atrocities by the Serbs after the fall of Srebrenica, but questions will be asked about the timing of Ms Albright's announcment, just as the world's eyes are turned to allegations of - admittedly much smaller - Croat and Muslim misdeeds following the defeat of the Krajina Serbs last week.

Serb refugees were reportedly stoned, as Croat police stood by, when they passed through Croatia en route to Serbia in the last two days. The Security Council yesterday warned the Zagreb government to abide by international human rights standards.

The events following the fall of Srebrenica last month are emerging as among the most horrific of the entire Balkan war. UN officials in Sarajevo say at least 2,000 people have gone missing since the Bosnian Serb army swept through Srebrenica. The Bosnian government says at least 6,000 are unaccounted for.

Of the 40,000 people listed as beneficiaries of aid from the UN High Commission for Refugees in Srebrenica, 23,000 were registered by the agency in Tuzla as refugees, while another 5,000 - mostly armed men who fought through enemy territory - are estimated by the UN to have reached safety. Those figures leave 12,000 unaccounted for, but population numbers are notoriously inaccurate.

War and diplomacy, pages 8,9

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