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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 11:41 GMT
Bosnia's first rebuilt mosque reopens

By Alix Kroeger in Prijedor

The first mosque to be rebuilt in Bosnian Serb territory since the end of the Bosnian war officially reopens on Monday in the northern town of Prijedor.

The mosque is being officially reopened by the leaders of Bosnia's four main faiths: Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism.

Prijedor's Muslim population was largely expelled in the first month of the war in 1992, but the area has since seen the highest number of refugee returns in Bosnia.

Work has started on the reconstruction of several mosques in Bosnian Serb territory, but the mosque in Prijedor is the first one to be completely rebuilt.

Ethnic cleansing

Prijedor was the site of one of the first campaigns of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war.

An estimated 52,000 people were killed or deported, including 40,000 Muslims and 3,000 Croats.

Wrecked mosque
The UN wants international funds to rebuild Bosnia's mosques
Mosques and Catholic churches in Prijedor were destroyed and thousands of people were imprisoned in detention camps at Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje.

The killings and abuse of prisoners there are now the subject of a prosecution at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

The United Nations mission to Bosnia is backing a plan to get international funding to rebuild religious sites belonging to all four of the country's main faiths.

However, the reopening comes at a sensitive time. Bosnia's parliamentary elections are less than two weeks away and the main Serb nationalist party, the SDS, is leading in the polls.

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See also:

24 May 00 | Europe
Bosnia angers Western allies
14 Jan 00 | Europe
Analysis: Big fish still at large
13 Jan 00 | Europe
UN slams Bosnian leadership
02 Aug 99 | Europe
Nato grabs war crimes suspect
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