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Srebrenica Anniversary: Stone-Throwing Crowd Chases Vucic, Serb PM

A crowd throwing bottles and stones chased Serbia’s prime minister from a ceremony in Bosnia marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.
/ Source: Reuters

POTOCARI, Bosnia — A crowd throwing bottles and stones chased Serbia’s prime minister from a ceremony in Bosnia on Saturday marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, underscoring the depth of anger over Belgrade’s continued denial of the crime as genocide.

Bodyguards whisked Aleksandar Vucic through angry mourners shouting and booing while a crowd surged up the hill behind the delegation as they ran for their cars. A Bosnian government source said the delegation had left the site.

The scene marred a ceremony to commemorate the day that Srebrenica, designated a safe haven protected by Dutch United Nations peacekeepers, fell to Bosnian Serb forces in the closing months of the 1992-95 war.

Bill Clinton, who was U.S. president at the time of the massacre, earlier told those gathered: "I grieve that it took us so long." "I never want to see another killing field like this," he said.

Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed over the next five days, their bodies dumped in pits only to be dug up months later and scattered in smaller graves in an effort to conceal the crime. More than 1,000 have yet to be found.

Related: Women Preserve Memory of Loved Ones Lost in Massacre

The remains of 136 recently identified victims were to be buried on Saturday. Serbia, which backed Bosnian Serb forces with men and money during the war, last week enlisted ally Russia to veto a British-backed U.N. resolution that would have condemned the denial of Srebrenica as genocide, as a U.N. court has ruled it was.


Serbian Prime Minister Alexandar Vucic and his delegation, escorted by security forces, leave the Potocari Memorial Cemetery, on July 11, 2015 near Srebrenica, after beeing booed by protesters. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Srebrenica on July 11 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Muslims in the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II.ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP - Getty Images

any Serbs dispute the term, the death toll and the official account of what went on, reflecting conflicting narratives about the Yugoslav wars that still feed political divisions and stifle progress toward integration with western Europe.

Related: 'We Will Find You': U.S. Prosecutors Warn Srebrenica Suspects

During the 1990s, Vucic was a disciple of the "Greater Serbia" ideology that fueled much of the bloodshed that accompanied Yugoslavia’s demise.

He has since rebranded himself as pro-Western and his attendance on Saturday was intended to be symbolic of how far the region has come since wars that left at least 135,000 people dead, 100,000 of them in Bosnia.

“Look at him (Vucic) and look at those thousands of tombstones,” said Hamida Dzanovic, who had come to bury two bones identified by DNA as those of her missing husband. “Is he not ashamed to say that this was not genocide? Is he not ashamed to come here?”

A woman cries as she visits the grave of a family member at the Potocari memorial complex near Srebrenica, 94 miles northeast of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Saturday.Marko Drobnjakovic / AP