Fire at suspected mass grave site

July 17, 2012 at 3:40 PM
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PRISTINA, Kosovo, July 17 (UPI) -- A fire broke out at a burial site suspected of containing the remains of Serb civilians kidnapped and killed in Kosovo, an official said.

Irina Gudeljevic, a representative of the European Union mission in Kosovo, could not say whether the fire had affected an investigation into the remains of missing persons believed to be buried at the site in Zilivode near Oblic, Tanjug reported.

Families of missing and kidnapped individuals said Monday they suspected the fire had been intentionally set to destroy evidence about the existence of the mass grave.

The families said excavation teams had reached a depth of about 82 feet when the fire started, and Tanjug said satellite photos show the mass grave holds the remains of at least 26 people.

Forensic medicine experts from the EU mission in Kosovo, the European Union Rule of Law Mission for Kosovo and their colleagues from the Pristina Department of Forensic Medicine, along with the Kosovo Security Force, recently resumed work at the site, which had been halted four years ago.

The remains of the 26 missing Serbs, including nine miners kidnapped in 1998, are believed to be buried at the site in a coal mine.

Tanjug said 1,796 people are listed as missing in Kosovo, including 537 Serbs and other non-Albanians.

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