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More Than 450 Bodies Excavated from Bosnia Mass Grave

Fri Nov 5, 1:38 PM ET
World - Reuters

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Forensic experts said on Friday they had unearthed the remains of 456 people believed to have been wartime prisoners killed by Bosnian Serb forces in what is the second largest mass grave found so far in Bosnia.

"We completed the exhumation of bodies from the Kevljani grave after we had reached the bottom at six meters (18 foot) depth," Esad Bajramovic, an official of the Commission for Missing Persons of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, told Reuters by telephone.

The experts were working on the 17 meter-long and six meter-wide grave in western Bosnia since mid-August. This is the second mass grave found in the village of Kevljani, near the town of Prijedor.

Bajramovic said documents found on some 40 bodies showed that the victims were prisoners of the Serb-run detention camps Omarska and Keraterm, also near Prijedor.

Early in the 1992-5 Bosnian war, thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats were held, killed or tortured in three detention camps near Prijedor. Nearly 3,500 people went missing from the town alone.

Bajramovic said Western experts would continue work on the site to determine what kind of machine had been used to dump the bodies in the grave.

"Once we know what kind of machine was used, we shall go on to search for the executors of this terrible crime," he said.

Bajramovic said DNA samples had been taken from bones for identification to take place in the northern town of Tuzla.

"I will be happy if we complete the identification of the victims in the next two years," he said, adding that it took more than a year to complete the identification of victims from the nearby Ljubija mass grave.

Bajramovic said his team would begin exhumations next week from another mass grave found in a pit near the western town of Kljuc.

About 4,000 bodies of non-Serbs had been exhumed from 110 mass graves in the wider western Krajina region. Only about half have been identified so far. Some 29,000 people, mostly Muslims, went missing in the war.

Bosnia's biggest single mass grave Crni Vrh near the eastern town of Zvornik contained the remains of 629 Muslims killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

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