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Forensic experts find biggest Bosnia war grave
( 2003-09-18 10:36) (Agencie)

Forensic experts excavating a mass grave in eastern Bosnia said on Wednesday it was the largest such site they had unearthed so far and contained hundreds of Muslim victims of the 1992-95 war.

In a hilly and wooded area near the town of Zvornik, the experts have been digging down through the muddy clay soil to unearth hundreds of bones and skulls and pieces of clothing.

So far they have unearthed 359 complete bodies, many with their hands tied, and expect to find about 100 more.

"This is the largest mass grave found so far on the territory of Bosnia, both regarding its dimensions and the number of victims," said Mensur Topcic, deputy public prosecutor in the northern Tuzla region.

Among the bodies were those of an 18-month-old baby and young children.

Documents retrieved in the Crni Vrh (Black Peak) grave show the victims were Muslims who went missing when Bosnian Serb forces, the former Yugoslav army and Serbian irregulars swiftly captured several eastern Bosnian towns.

About 200,000 people died in the Bosnian war, in which well-armed Serb forces fought against initially allied Croats and Muslims, who later also fought each other. Thousands died in "ethnic cleansing" after the capture of towns and villages.

"I think we shall find about 450 complete bodies," Polish expert Ewa Klonowski said of the Crni Vrh site, adding that digging was expected to last several more weeks.

The forensic experts have still not reached the bottom of the 40-meter by five-meter grave.

Klonowski said the remains of nine children aged one to 12 were found buried in one corner of the grave alongside women believed to have been their mothers. "We call it the sad corner," she said.

"The bones were so small," she said sadly, showing the size of a hand.

Among the other discoveries -- the bullet-scarred skull of an eight-year-old child, and a bullet found in the spine of another child.

Last year, experts exhumed hundreds of body parts from a site near the village of Kamenica, which is close to Zvornik, but the Crni Vrh mass grave is believed to be bigger.

The Crni Vrh site is known as a secondary grave, because it contains bodies taken from at least two other sites to hide traces of the crime.

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