86 victims of Bosnian war buried 27 years after massacre


Prijedor (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (AFP) - Hundreds of people gathered Saturday for the funeral of 86 Muslim victims of a massacre committed in Prijedor by Bosnian Serb forces at the beginning of the 1990s Bosnian war.

The remains of the victims, mostly male and many teenagers, were found in 2017 in a mass grave at Koricanske Stijene, a mountain region of central Bosnia.

The remains were found at the bottom of a cliff, in a natural pit, and were covered by an enormous amount of stones.

The victims were part of a group of more than 200 civilians, notably Bosnian Muslims, but also several Catholic Croats, previously held in a detention camp at Trnopolje, in the region of Prijedor.

On August 21, 1992, they were loaded onto buses, officially for a prisoner exchange.

But when the convoy arrived at Koricanske Stijene they were offloaded, lined up on the edge of the cliff and executed, according to several verdicts by local courts against members of the Bosnian Serb forces.

It was one of the most horrible episodes of the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia that claimed some 100,000 lives.

Medina Garibovic, 29, who lives in Switzerland, came to bury her father Sefik, who was 35 when he died.

"We separated from each other in May 1992 at the train station in Trnopolje (a village near Prijedor)," she told AFP.

"My mother, my sister and I first left to Slovenia. He was supposed to join us a week later. But he was taken to the camp in Trnopolje and we never saw each other again," she told AFP.

Garibovic's remains, like those of Himzo Mrkalj, were unearthed found during the 2017 exhumations.

"In the first exhumation we found a bone and two teeth of my husband. Now, we found more remains and we have decided to bury him," said his widow, 71-year old Nasima Mrkalj.

"On one hand, I am satisfied, but pain is stronger than that satisfaction," the woman, who lives in Denmark, added.

To date, 181 victim of the massacre at Koricanske Stijene have been found and identified, including 176 Bosnian Muslims and five Croats, according to Mujo Begic, an official from the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons.

After taking control in the northwestern region of Prijedor in April 1992, Serb forces killed some 3,200 people, including 250 women and a hundred children, according to victims' associations.

Some 650 people are still unaccounted for.