x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Mass grave of Kosovo victims found in Serbia

Bodies of ethnic Albanians killed during 1998-99 war in Kosovo has been discovered 180 kms away from the capital of Belgrade.

BELGRADE, Serbia // A mass grave containing bodies of ethnic Albanians killed during 1998-99 war in Kosovo has been discovered in Serbia, officials said today. Serbia's war crimes prosecutor's office said the grave is located in Rudnica, near the town of Raska, about 180 kilometres south of Belgrade, Serbia's capital. The prosecutor's office gave no other details, but planned to hold a news conference about the discovery later today.

The independent B92 Television reported that the mass grave contains about 250 bodies of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo who were killed during the 1998-99 war. It is the sixth mass grave discovered in Serbia since 2001. Hundreds of bodies of slain ethnic Albanians have been exhumed in the past several years and returned to Kosovo. During the war, the bodies of Kosovo victims were brought to Serbia by the regime of late President Slobodan Milosevic in an attempt to cover up the atrocities against civilians.

The discovery of mass graves became possible after Mr Milosevic was ousted from power in 2000 by pro-Western forces. He died in 2006 while on a genocide trial at the UN tribunal. Serbia has since tried to deal with its wartime past as it seeks European Union membership. About 10,000 people were killed during the Kosovo conflict, which erupted after Serbia moved to crush a rebellion there by independence-seeking ethnic Albanian rebels.

The brutality of Serbia's crackdown prompted Nato to bomb the country in 1999, forcing Milosevic to pull out his troops. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. * AP