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Saturday, January 16, 1999 Published at 18:37 GMT

World: Europe

Kosovo massacre: 'A twisted mass of bodies'

International observers: Came too late says locals

By Jacky Rowland in Racak

I arrived in the small farming village of Racak by chance. It was a sunny, winter morning and I had decided to drive out to the scene of fighting on Friday.

I bumped into a local farmer who told me there was something I should see in the top field.

We came upon a gully in the hilltop, that was when I saw the first body. It was an elderly man who had been shot in the eye.

[ image: Shock and sadness among villagers]
Shock and sadness among villagers
We walked along the gully and came upon body after body. They were all ordinary men; farmers, labourers, villagers. They had all been shot in the head.

At the end of the gully lay a twisted mass of bodies about 15 in total.

Then I heard the crying.

A boy of about 15 was wailing inconsolably. He told me he had just found three of his brothers slaughtered on the hilltop.

The atmosphere in the village was one of shock, bewilderment, disbelief.

Many of the villagers had only just returned to Racak after spending the night in the forest. They fled their homes on Friday to escape shelling by Serbian security forces.

They returned to find their loved ones brutally murdered.

Strings of international officials turned up in the hours that followed to see for themselves what had happened.

The massacre seemed to underline their impotence, as one villager shouted, it is a pity you did not come before, now it is too late.

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