UN condemns arson attacks on Srebrenica houses

SARAJEVO, Jun 16, 2000 -- (Reuters) The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, on Thursday condemned arson attacks on three Moslem houses in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, thousands of whose Moslem men were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

The mayor of Srebrenica said the houses had been set on fire over the last two weeks, a UNHCR spokeswoman said.

"UNHCR strongly believes that incidents like the one in Srebrenica should not decrease the return process in Bosnia and Herzegovina," spokeswoman Aida Feregat told a news conference.

Tens of thousands of Moslems fled Srebrenica and some 8,000 men are still missing, presumed dead, after Serb forces overran it in July 1995 despite having being proclaimed a UN "safe haven".

Although the war ended a few months later, only a handful of Moslems driven out by the Serbs have so far returned, although about 80 Moslem families recently moved back to the village of Suceska, 20 km (12 miles) away.

"UNHCR strongly condemns the destruction of the property, especially at a time when the whole international community is trying to mobilize more funds for the reconstruction programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Feregat.

On July 11 the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre will mark the fifth anniversary with prayers in the village of Potocari, believed to have been the site of the biggest mass execution.

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