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On the morning of 12 July 1995, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic was filmed by Serbian journalist Zoran Petrović reassuring the population of Srebrenica, a Muslim town in a Serb-majority region of Bosnia. Mladic, surrounded by his militiamen, explained that no harm would come to any of the inhabitants of Srebrenica. Also included in the video was a short interview with Mladic in which he explained how his men had brought food, water and medicine to the city for the local population. At the end of the video, Mladic could be seen talking to a 12-year-old Muslim boy: he asked him to be patient and told him that anyone who wanted to stay in Srebrenica could do so. At that moment, his men had been rounding up and killing all the males of military age in the town for 24 hours, i.e. since the afternoon of 11 July. Within 72 hours more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims had been killed in the worst massacre in Europe since the end of the Second World War.


Throughout 12 July, Dutch soldiers and refugees gathered around their base witnessed sporadic violence. Over the next 48 hours, the executions proceeded in a precise and uniform manner. The groups of newly captured men were first taken to schools or abandoned warehouses. Here their hands were tied behind their backs, they were often blindfolded and had their shoes removed to make sure they could not escape. After waiting a few hours, the prisoners were loaded onto trucks and buses, often the same ones used a few hours earlier to take their families out of the city. They were then transported far from the inhabited areas, disembarked, lined up and shot in the head. Their bodies were then pushed with bulldozers into mass graves and buried. Since then, dozens of such mass graves have been discovered and the human remains of more than 6,500 people have been identified through DNA tests. In all, it is estimated that more than 8,100 people were killed in Srebrenica.

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