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Thousands Honor Victims Of Srebrenica Massacre

Coffins which contain the remains of victims of the massacre delivered to Srebrenica for a final burial.
Coffins which contain the remains of victims of the massacre delivered to Srebrenica for a final burial.

Thousands of people paid homage to the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, raising their hands in prayer as a truck passed through the capital, Sarajevo, carrying the remains of 127 newly identified victims for a final burial.

The ceremony on July 9 was part of events that will mark the 21st anniversary of the massacre in which more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were systematically rounded up and killed by the Bosnian Serb army.

The violence, which occurred five months before the end of Bosnia-Herzegovina's interethnic war, was Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.

In 2004, the United Nations tribunal prosecuting Yugoslav war crimes officially designated the Srebrenica events as a “genocide.”

The truck carrying the coffins stopped outside the presidency in Sarajevo where residents, officials, and foreign ambassadors paid tribute.

Many in the crowd wept and tucked flowers into the truck's canvas tarp before it slowly drove down the street, covered in white rose petals.

The bodies were found in mass graves and were the latest to be identified. They will be buried on July 11, the anniversary of the massacre.

Every year forensic experts find new bodies in the nearly 100 mass graves so far found. The remains are identified through DNA analysis before they are buried again at a memorial center near Srebrenica, where the victims were last seen alive.

Srebrenica, located in eastern Bosnia, fell to Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995. Its Muslim population fled the town which had been declared a UN "safe haven" for civilians. They rushed to the UN compound in hopes that the peacekeepers would protect them.

When Serb forces led by Serb General Ratko Mladic arrived at the UN compound, the peacekeepers quickly handed over the base. The Bosnian Serb forces then separated out men and boys for execution and sent the women and girls elsewhere in territory under their control.

Thousands of male residents of Srebrenica tried to flee through the woods but were hunted down and killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted in March of war crimes for his role in Srebrenica while Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic is still on trial at The Hague.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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