Bombs found at memorial for Srebrenica genocide

Bosnian Serb police have found two powerful bombs at the memorial site for victims of the Srebrenica massacre of Muslims, just days ahead of a ceremony to mark its 10th anniversary.

The bombs would have caused widespread loss of life and injury had they exploded, and were probably aimed at plunging the region into further bloodshed.

After the tip-off from the European Union peace-keeping force, Bosnian Serb police acted early yesterday morning. The bombs were found at two sites in Potocari, a suburb of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia.

"We found a significant amount of explosives at two separate locations and have sealed off the wider region of Potocari," a police spokesman, said. "We have identified several suspects and the search [for] them is going on."

Police brought in bomb experts and dogs to trace the explosives, which weighed a total of 35kg (77lbs). The bombs were successfully dismantled in the early afternoon. Experts said they would have been "a huge destructive force".

Potocari is the memorial site for 8,000 Muslim boys and men who were executed after Bosnian Serb forces overran the enclave on 11 July 1995. The war crimes tribunal at The Hague described the massacre as genocide. But the two men who masterminded the Srebrenica executions are still out of the reach of justice. The wartime Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his army's commander, General Ratko Mladic, went into hiding years ago.

A ceremony commemorating the 10 years since the massacre is to be held in Potocari on Monday. More than 50,000 people, including relatives of victims, international politicians and diplomats, are expected to attend. About 1,500 police officers will be deployed to secure the event.

The International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP), whose DNA laboratories deal with the identification of murdered Muslims, announced this month that 580 victims are to be buried during the ceremony. So far, more than 2,000 victims have been identified and most are buried there.

The bodies were found in mass graves that the Bosnian Serbs tried to hide by scattering them across the countryside. To make them harder to find, some of the graves were dug up and shifted to different locations.

The ICMP facility in Tuzla, about 40 miles from Srebrenica, still has 3,500 body bags with the remains of massacre victims that await DNA identification.

The Serbian President, Boris Tadic, will attend the ceremony in an effort to start the reconciliation process with Bosnian Muslims and finally cut ties with the regime of the former leader Slobodan Milosevic, whose forces participated in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Despite an admission of guilt for the massacre by the government of the Bosnian Serb Republic last year, many Serbs believe the Srebrenica massacre is an invention of the West and a conspiracy against them.

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