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4 Bodies Found at Suspected Mass

April 26, 2001

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) _ Local forensic experts have unearthed four bodies from what is believed to be a mass grave dug during Croatia’s war with rebellious Serbs in 1991.

It is believed that the remains of dozens of victims _ most of them civilians _ lie buried at the site, located on a farm in Dalj, some 188 miles east of the capital, Zagreb, said Ivan Grujic, the head of the forensic team.

Wednesday’s exhumations, which were monitored by officials with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are expected to last more than two weeks. The remains of the victims will be transferred to Zagreb for identification.

The region where the bodies were located, known as Eastern Slavonia, was formerly controlled by rebel Serbs. The grave was found through tips from local Serbs, who have been steadily moving back to Croatia since they fled a government offensive in 1995.

Grujic said the bodies were most likely civilians killed during the siege of the eastern city of Vukovar, and were transported to the grave site by trucks.

He added there were indications from local Serbs that other mass graves were located in the region and preliminary investigations will begin at those suspected sites later this week.

Minority Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav army, rebelled against Croatia’s independence from the former Yugoslav federation in 1991, seizing a third of Croatian territory.

The government recaptured most of the lands in a blitz offensive in 1995. Eastern Slavonia, however, was returned to government rule in January 1998 through an internationally brokered peace deal.

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