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Monday, October 12, 1998 Published at 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK

World: Europe

Bosnia's biggest mass grave exhumed

Victims are believed to come from local villages

BBC's Simon Harrison: Witnesses saw Yugoslav troops burying bodies in 1992
Teams of forensic experts have finished exhuming the mass grave found last week near the town of Zvornik in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina.

They say it is the biggest discovered in the country, containing the bodies of 274 victims. The bodies are now being transported to Tuzla for identification.

Officials say the victims - some of whom were found in plastic bags bearing the insignia of the Yugoslav army - appear to have been local Muslim civilians.

They are believed to have been killed in 1992 when Bosnian Serb forces were carrying out a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing.

Since 1996 around 1,800 bodies have been recovered from mass graves in the area but few have been identified.

Smaller graves nearby

[ image: Some 1,500 from the area are still reported missing]
Some 1,500 from the area are still reported missing
Officials said on Sunday the newly found mass grave, located a few hundred metres outside the village of Glumina, is 51 metres long and nine metres wide.

Amor Masovic, head of the Missing Persons Commission, said some victims were handcuffed, indicating that they had been detained and then executed.

The area, part of Bosnia's post-war Serb republic, is now populated almost entirely by Serbs, some of them refugees from Sarajevo or other federation areas dominated by Muslims.

Mr Masovic earlier said he believed there were other smaller graves nearby and that his team would start work there soon. He said there were still 1,500 persons from the area reported missing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that altogether nearly 20,000 people are unaccounted for from the brutal three-year conflict.

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