Bosnia: Europe's worst conflict since WWII

The three-and-a-half year conflict in Bosnia reignited horrors of Nazism from concentration camps to mass killings

Bosnia: Europe's worst conflict since WWII

World Bulletin / News Desk

The three-and-a-half year conflict in Bosnia marked a watershed in European history as the continent’s greatest loss of life since the Second World War.

Atrocities were committed on all sides but it was the Muslim Bosniak population that arguably suffered the worse and it is the massacres committed against the Bosniak community - notably in Sarajevo and Srebrenica - that have become synonymous with the conflict.

Between April 1992 and December 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced in a war that introduced the phrase “ethnic cleansing”. Up to 50,000 women, mostly Bosniak, were raped.

The war was sparked by the break-up of Yugoslavia that lead Bosnia to declare independence in February 1992.

Bosnian capital Sarajevo came under siege from Bosnian Serb militias backed by the Yugoslav People’s Army in what became the longest siege in modern history.

During the blockade, around 10,000 civilians lost their lives and more than 50,000 others were injured. More than 300 shells fell on the city daily, damaging thousands of buildings.

The war also saw the return of concentration camps to Europe. According to an association of camp victims, there were 657 Serb-run camps in which around 30,000 inmates died and thousands others were tortured and starved. Most of those killed were buried in mass graves around the country.

In Prijedor, northwest Bosnia, where there was a large number of camps, more than 5,000 people, most of them civilians were killed.

In one early incident, 224 Bosniaks were transferred from Prijedor in August 1992. They were all killed by Serb forces. The bodies of 188 victims remain undiscovered 23 years later.

Another massacre took place in the village of Ahmici, central Bosnia, when Croatian Defense Council forces killed 116 Bosnians, including 43 women and children.

But perhaps the war crime most closely associated with the war was that committed at Srebrenica in July 1995 when, under the noses of Dutch UN peacekeepers, Serb paramilitaries rounded up and murdered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s worst massacre since the days of the Nazis.

In August, NATO began widespread air strikes against Serb positions, leading to the following month’s peace accord and talks in Dayton, Ohio, that resulted in a final peace agreement.

Last Mod: 10 Temmuz 2015, 11:03
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