7 Apr 2012

Bosnians mark anniversary of conflict

9:43 am on 7 April 2012

Ceremonies in Sarajevo are marking 20 years since the start of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a conflict in which the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II were committed.

The conflict began in April 1992 as part of the break-up of Yugoslavia.

About 100,000 people were killed and nearly half the population forced from their homes in four years of fighting.

To mark the anniversary, 11,541 red chairs have filled the street in Sarajevo where the conflict began - one for each victim in the city.

On a stage in front of the chairs, a choir and small classical orchestra performed songs, many composed during the siege.

Sarajevans were asked to stop what they were doing at midday for an hour to mark the start of the conflict.

Sarajevo was under siege for three years and eight months in the early 1990s. The mainly Muslim population took cover, as Serb gunners barraged the city from the hills surrounding it.

The worst single atrocity during the war was the massacre of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, in July 1995, in which Bosnian Serb forces overran what should have been a UN safe haven. About 8,000 Muslim men and boys were taken away and killed.

As a result the UN changed the mandate for its mission and allowed force to be used, the BBC reports.