Nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed toward the end of the 1992-95 war when Bosnian Serbs troops overran the eastern enclave, which had been designated a U.N. safe haven. Their remains were buried in mass graves that continue to be found a decade later.
Bosnian Serb troops stormed past 150 outnumbered and outgunned Dutch peacekeepers charged with protecting the U.N.-declared safe zone on July 11, 1995. About 15,000 people fled the town through the woods and headed west toward territory held by the Bosnian Muslim army in the village of Nezuk. They were pursued through the mountains by Bosnian Serb troops.
A group of about 700 survivors and volunteers began a 100 kilometer (60 mile) march to retrace the route in reverse on Friday, walking from Nezuk toward Srebrenica and aiming to arrive there on July 11 for the anniversary.
The group plans to stop and pray at mass graves, and U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Douglas McElhaney is to address the marchers at Crni Vrh, the first and largest mass grave along the route, the AP reports.
During the ceremony to mark the anniversary, the remains of 500 people killed in Srebrenica will be buried at a memorial cemetery that already contains the remains of more than 1,800 others. Their bodies were exhumed from more than 60 mass graves that have been found around the eastern Bosnian town.
U.N. war crimes prosecutors have indicted Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic, for genocide and crimes against humanity for the atrocities at Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia. Both remain at large.