British troops saved 150 from massacre

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The Independent Online
VITEZ - British troops saved 150 Muslims from almost certain death immediately after the massacre at Ahmici in central Bosnia on 16 April, the British commander here, Lieutenant-Colonel Bob Stewart told the Independent yesterday, writes Christopher Bellamy.

He said that soon after the massacre, which claimed at least 103 lives, two Warrior fighting vehicles came across Bosnian Croat soldiers marching 150 men, women and children down a country road. The British soldiers challenged them, and forced them to turn around. Those people are alive today and have told the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that the Warriors saved their lives.

British troops had heard the start of a big assault on Ahmici and headed for the shooting. 'It was systematic genocide,' Col Stewart said. 'It started with an attack on two sides. The village was assaulted. Houses were attacked by groups of three or four men. They were carrying petrol.'

An eyewitness account said one of the Croats gave an order: 'First kill the men. Then kill the male children. Then the rest. And destroy all that is Muslim.'

'We heard it starting and got there, but it was over pretty quickly,' Col Stewart said. 'But when we were patrolling, a group of soldiers were marching 150 men, women and children down the road . . . two of the men had just been shot in front of their eyes.

'Two Warriors turned up. They stopped. They didn't have an interpreter. They said this was unacceptable. As a consequence, the direction of travel of 150 people was turned and - I wouldn't say saved - but the lives were not taken and they are alive today.'

Col Stewart estimated that 500-1,000 people, including children, were still imprisoned in his area. He said one six-year-old girl had told how she was taken. 'My mummy and daddy were made to lie down. They made me get up, but my mummy and daddy didn't get up.'

Interview, page 10

(Photograph omitted)

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