Turkish leader sends off Srebrenica genocide victims
During his two-day visit to Bosnia's capital Sarajevo, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a procession to commemorate the genocide's thousands of innocent victims.
The remains of 33 Srebrenica genocide victims were placed on a truck laden with flowers in the Bosnian city of Visoko on Tuesday morning for their final journey to rest in a cemetery.
The victims will be buried in the village of Potocari, northwest of Srebrenica, on Thursday to mark the 24rd anniversary of the genocide.
The truck carrying the victims' remains arrived at the Presidential Council Building in the capital Sarajevo. Erdoğan together with Bosnian officials and members of the public prayed for the victims and placed flowers on the truck.
Sarajevo locals showed great interest in the president and first lady Emine Erdoğan, who took time to chat with them and have their photos taken.
As the truck passed through the streets of capital Sarajevo, thousands of people, including women and children, could be seen crying. Many showered the truck with flowers and raised their hands in prayer.
Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide -- which claimed the lives of over 8,000 people -- are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral service and burials.
As of this year's funeral, the number of burials in the cemetery will rise to 6,643.
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.
Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic -- later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide -- overran the UN zone.
The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica people fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.