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Kosovars Remember 1999 Racak Massacre


Kosovars pay their respects to victims of the Racak massacre in the village of Racak on January 15.

Thousands of people have gathered in the southern Kosovo village of Racak to mark 20 years since 45 ethnic Albanians were massacred by Serbian forces in an act that sparked international anger.

The killings were one of the factors that prompted NATO to launch an air campaign to end Kosovo's 1998-99 war.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's government at the time claimed that the dead were all members of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) killed in combat with state security forces. The dead included a 12-year-old boy.

'They Screamed Until They Died': Remembering Kosovo's Racak Massacre
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Top government officials, including Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, and others gathered on January 15 at the cemetery in Racak, 32 kilometers south of the capital, Pristina.

Haradinaj, himself a former UCK fighter, said that the "pain, blood, and sacrifice of the people are not lost."

More than 10,000 were killed in the war, and some 1,650 are still unaccounted for. Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence isn't recognized by Serbia.

This week, a special international court on war crimes during and after the war began questioning members of the UCK -- as well as Kosovo's ethnic Serbs -- over alleged crimes against Serbian prisoners.

With reporting by AP
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