SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Veterans from opposite sides of the brutal Balkan wars of the 1990s paid their respects Saturday to the victims of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
The small group of former fighters from Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia laid flowers at the memorial dedicated to over 8,000 Muslim Bosnian men and boys who were executed in 1995 by Serb forces in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
The visit was organized by the Centre for Nonviolent Action, a non-governmental organization that promotes nonviolence and dialogue and encourages former foes to deal constructively with their past.
For most, this was the first time they had faced the magnitude of the crimes committed by their own forces. Participants said the visit left them "shocked" and "speechless."
Novica Kostic, a former soldier from Serbia said the group had visited other marked and unmarked places where people suffered during the wars "but this is heavy."
"This is horror. Genocide is a soft word for this. This is hell for my soul," the shaken veteran said.
After having watched a documentary about the massacre, the group walked along a wall with the names of the victims engraved. Many were overwhelmed by the thousands of graves that fill the valley near Srebrenica.