KAMENICA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Forensic experts have unearthed the remains of 616 more Bosnian Muslim victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre from a mass grave, the biggest such site found this year.
The village of Kamenica lies in an area nicknamed “Death Valley”. Nine graves have been found there, containing remains of many of the 8,000 men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb forces as they fled Srebrenica in the last months of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
“We found 76 complete and 540 incomplete bodies,” said Ismet Music, an official of the regional commission for missing persons, standing on the edge of a muddy grave where white-clad forensic pathologists cleaned up bones.
Some bodies are very well preserved due to an extraordinary microclimate in the grave. Music said some faces were almost intact, with eyes staring wide open.
“It was quite a creepy sight,” he said.
A total 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed after the town was overrun by the Bosnian Serbs despite having been declared a “safe area” where United Nations troops had been stationed.
Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide over the atrocity, is still on the run.
Documents found at the newly-excavated site and on many of the bodies reveal their identities. Bodies have been unearthed with eyes blindfolded, hands bound, and bullet wounds.
“It is obvious how they were executed,” Music said.
Many victims of the Srebrenica massacre were hunted down while running through the woods in small groups and shot.
The Bosnian Serbs first buried them near the execution sites but then dug up many of them up again with bulldozers and reburied them in so-called “secondary” mass graves, in an attempt to cover up the crime.
More than 3,000 victims have been identified and buried. The remains of as many more, often dismembered, still await identification through DNA analysis.
Experts believe there are more such graves in the Kamenica area. Last year, another grave in the valley yielded more than 1,000 body parts, making it the biggest such site in Bosnia.
Writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Ellie Tzortzi and Andrew Roche