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Bosnian Leaders Protest Dutch Awards To Srebrenica Peacekeepers

The three-member presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina has officially protested to the Netherlands for honoring Dutch peacekeepers who failed to prevent the 1995 massacre of some eight thousand Muslim civilians.

Muslim member Haris Silajdzic told reporters Tuesday that the presidency summoned the Dutch Ambassador in Sarajevo, Karel Vosskuler, and handed a protest note to him.

The Netherlands' Defense Minister, Henk Kamp, on Monday pinned insignia on some 500 members of the battalion that served in eastern Bosnia and whose mission was to protect the civilian population of the Srebrenica enclave.

Ethnic Serb forces overwhelmed the outnumbered Dutch soldiers. The Serbs then separated the Muslim men and boys from the women, killed the males and later dumped the bodies in mass graves.

Bosnian officials are demanding an explanation of the Dutch government for honoring the soldiers who failed to protect the civilians.

Survivors of the massacre also expressed outrage.

Dutch officials say the soldiers deserved recognition for their behavior in difficult circumstances.

Srebrenica was one of the U.N. protected zones in Bosnia during the 1990s Balkan conflict.

The brutal massacre of civilians there was the worst in Europe since World War II.

The bloody conflict involving ethnic Serbs, Croats and majority Muslims in Bosnia began in 1992 and lasted three years.

Some information for this report provided by AP.