VISEGRAD, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Several thousand people held a mass funeral on Saturday for 66 Muslim Bosnians who were killed by Bosnian Serb forces during the country’s 1992-1995 war.
The victims’ remains were only discovered two years ago, when a man-made lake that divides Bosnia and Serbia was partially drained for the maintenance of a dam. The remains were then identified through DNA analysis.
Those attending Saturday’s ceremony at a cemetery in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad included Amira Murtic, 49. She has lived in Austria since being expelled from her hometown, and she only returns to Visegrad for funerals.
Last year she buried her husband, whose body had been found in a mass grave.
On Saturday she came to bury her brother Ramiz and said his son came, too, “even though he was so young during the conflict he does not even remember his father.”
During the war, thousands of non-Serb civilians from the area were rounded up and killed, their bodies buried in mass graves around the town or dumped into the Drina River from an Ottoman-era bridge in Visegrad.
After Saturday’s funeral, families and friends of the victims visited the bridge and threw red roses into the river in honor of Muslim Bosnians victims. The oldest had died at 86, the youngest was 3 1/2 years old.
The bodies of those who were thrown into the river in 1992 lodged further down in the artificial Perucac Lake that was created by a dam. The lake was drained in 2010 and skulls and bones emerged in the mud of the banks. Hundreds of volunteers from all over Bosnia helped forensic experts collect 372 bone fragments on the Bosnian side and 79 on the Serbian side of the lake.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)