Serbia condemns attack on PM at Srebrenica ceremony
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Serbia’s interior minister on Saturday slammed the violent scenes that saw an angry crowd hurling rocks at the Serbian prime minister attending a commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, calling the incident “an assassination attempt”.
“This is a scandalous attack and I can say it can be seen as an assassination attempt,” Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Serbian Pink television.
“Bosnia has failed to create even the minimal conditions for the safety of the prime minister,” he added.
Bosnia's presidency strongly condemned the stone-throwing incident, saying Vucic had come to the town in the "spirit of reconciliation and intending to pay respect to the victims". It apologised to "all foreign delegations" over the incident.
Vucic was forced to leave the ceremony after a crowd began chasing him with stones and bottles.
His associate, Suzana Vasiljevic, told The Associated Press that he was hit in the face with a stone and his glasses were broken. Vasiljevic said she was behind Vucic when "masses broke the fences and turned against us."
In a statement released shortly before his arrival, Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic condemned the "monstrous crime" that saw some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces after they captured the town in July 1995, near the end of Bosnia's inter-ethnic war.
Dozens of foreign dignitaries - including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Britain's Princess Anne and Jordan's Queen Noor - came for a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre.
The crime was defined as genocide by two international courts, but Serbia and Bosnian Serbs still deny the killings were "genocide".
The ceremony was to allow families to lay the remains of 136 victims to rest at a memorial center next to the graves of over 6,000 previously found in mass graves.
During the 1992-95 war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica a safe haven for civilians. But on July 11, 1995, Serb troops overran the Muslim enclave. Some 15,000 men tried to flee through the woods toward government-held territory while others joined the town's women and children in seeking refuge at the base of the Dutch U.N. troops.
The outnumbered Dutch troops could only watch as Serb soldiers rounded up about 2,000 men for killing and later hunted down and killed another 6,000 men in the woods.
Despite the violent scenes and booing, many at the ceremony welcomed his presence.
"Only on truth we can build a future. You cannot deny the truth," Kada Hotic, who lost her son and husband in the massacre, told Vucic.
"All of my family members are here under these tombstones. This cannot be denied. Because of our future, we need good relations," she added.
So far, remains of some 7,000 victims have been excavated from 93 graves or collected from 314 surface locations and identified through DNA technology. None of the 136 bodies to be laid to rest Saturday are complete.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS and AFP)