Bela Crkva massacre

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The Bela Crkva massacre was the mass-killing of Kosovo Albanian villagers from Bela Crkva, Kosovo by Serb armed forces on 24–25 March 1999.

Twelve hours after NATO had started bombing strategic Serb targets, Serb armed forces came to the area around Bela Crkva, fired artillery, and set fire to the village.

Villagers fled to the river bank and some hid under a bridge. Serb forces found the villagers and divided them into two groups; men and women. ("Men" includes boys aged twelve and above). The men were stripped; their money, valuables, and documents taken; then they were executed. A smaller number of women were killed too. The youngest was four years old.[1]

I was lucky. I was in front of the group. I was shot in the shoulder and flew into the stream, where I pretended to be dead. About 20 dead bodies fell on top of me. They then shot into the pile of bodies to be sure they were dead. They shot people one by one, but I didn't get shot because they didn't see me.[2]

58 villagers were killed in the massacre.[3] The British Foreign Secretary at the time, Robin Cook, said, "these children cannot conceivably have been a danger to anyone, but the Serb forces clearly saw every Albanian of whatever age as an enemy."[1]

Human Rights Watch suggests that there were similar mass killings in other villages in the district, including Mala Kruša, Celina, and Pirane.[4] However, eyewitnesses are rare, partly due to the efficient and systematic nature of the killings.[5]


  1. ^ a b Voss (6 July 1999). "Massacre victims buried". BBC News. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Tanner (20 April 1999). "War in the Balkans: The day the men of Bela Crkva died". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Anthony DePalma (3 May 1999). "Survivor Tells of Massacre at Kosovo Village". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Congressional Record, V. 145, Pt. 6. 1999. p. 8111. 

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