Serbs unearth 181 bodies in mass grave

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The Independent Online
Belgrade (AP) - A mass grave in northern Bosnia exhumed over the past two weeks contained 181 bodies, including those of women killed in their nightgowns, a Serb who took part in the exhumation was quoted as saying yesterday.

All but one of the bodies, thought to be Serbs killed last autumn, showed signs of violence, Zoran Stankovic, who headed a team of experts digging up the grave in Mrkonjic Grad, told Serbia's Tanjug news agency.

John Gerns, an expert who is working with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague was present during the dig and the autopsies, he said. "We filmed all the bodies immediately and in the presence of international observers," Mr Stankovic said.

The Serbs say that the grave contains the bodies of Serbs who were killed when Bosnian Croat and Muslim troops took Mrkonjic Grad last autumn.

The Muslim-Croat federation returned Mrkonjic Grad and nearby Sipovo to the Serbs under the Dayton agreement. But before they left, Bosnian Croats troops burned and looted many homes.

The victims were mostly civilians, including women, with the youngest aged 22 and the oldest over 90, Mr Stankovic said. There were also some soldiers in the grave.

Some women were found buried in their nightgowns, he added. Ilija Simic, an official in Serbia's commission for war crimes said he expected the Hague tribunal to react to the Mrkonjic Grad finds. He insisted that they constituted clear evidence that war crimes were committed in the region.

nWashington - A coalition of human rights groups asked an American court to make the US State Department and the CIA release their records on the massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs last summer in the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. Srebrenica was the scene of some of the worst atrocities that were committed during the Balkan war.

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