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Services at Srebrenica Solemn, Painful


Thousands are gathered at the killing field near Srebrenica, in Bosnia, where 10 years ago Serb forces murdered some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, in what was the country’s worst atrocity since the Second World War.

All morning, buses and cars crowded the narrow roads that wind through the mountains in route to this hallowed place. They carry mourners from all over Bosnia and beyond.

Only recently, this memorial garden and cemetery were carved from the green fields, across from the former battery factory that was the headquarters for Dutch United Nations peacekeeping troops in 1995.

Ten years ago, Muslims from Eastern Bosnia had streamed into this supposed safe haven of the Dutch base, seeking protection from attacking Serbs. When the lightly-armed Dutch were overwhelmed by the Serbs, a fleet of buses arrived at the factory gates. The women were sent away and found safety. More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were never seen again.

This morning, the green coffins of 600 Muslim men and boys, their remains found in mass graves, are laid out in neat rows on the memorial ground in advent of burial.

Relatives of the victims, the women in white headscarves, some of the men in white caps, stop and weep and reach out to touch the fathers and brothers they lost. A sound system projects Arabic chants from the Koran as mourners take their place on the grass-covered hill that is wet from overnight rain.

Over the main gate, as clouds stream through, a white and green banner proclaims, "Ten years after the genocide, let us not forget!"

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