Bodies in Kosovan mass grave are believed to be missing Serbs

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The Independent Online

United Nations forensic science experts are examining bodies found in a mass grave in Kosovo, believed to be Serbs killed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

United Nations forensic science experts are examining bodies found in a mass grave in Kosovo, believed to be Serbs killed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

The burial site - found on Saturday in Malisevo, a town 20km south of Pristina, Kosovo's capital, and half a mile from the local hospital - appeared to contain the remains of at least half a dozen Serbs killed during the province's 1998-99 war. The bodies were being exhumed, officials said.

Experts have found multiple human remains and two complete bodies, said Marcia Poole, a UN spokeswoman. "We presume that these remains are those of Serbs who went missing in a 1998 event," she said.

At least seven bodies have been discovered, another UN official said on condition of anonymity. The victims appeared to be male, and at least one had his hands tied.

The UN office on missing persons and forensics began excavations last week in the ethnic Albanian rebel stronghold. The mass grave is the second to be discovered within a month. Last month UN authorities uncovered at least 22 bodies of people believed to have been killed during the war in a cave near Klina, 50km west of Pristina.

About 500 Serbs and 200 members of other non-Albanian communities in Kosovo remain missing and are suspected to have been kidnapped and killed by ethnic Albanian rebels during the war.

Hundreds of people listed as missing from the war have been found in mass graves in Kosovo and Serbia, but about 3,000 people remain unaccounted for.

Serbian and Kosovan officials resumed talks in March aimed at establishing the fate of ethnic Albanians, Serbs and others who vanished during the war - one of the most sensitive and emotionally charged issues between the former foes.

The sides agreed to accept the Red Cross list of 2,960 still missing as their figure of reference and agreed to meet again on 9 June in Pristina.

Nato air strikes in 1999 pushed Serb troops out of Kosovo and forced the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to relinquish control of the province. It is now run by the UN with Nato-led peacekeepers, although it remains part of Serbia-Montenegro.

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