RECAK, Kosovo (AP) – Thousands gathered Tuesday in the southern Kosovo village of Recak to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the mass killing of 45 ethnic Albanians by Serb forces that sparked international anger.
The killings were a major factor in NATO’s decision to launch an air campaign to end Kosovo’s 1998-99 war. The Serbian government of President Slobodan Milosevic claimed at the time that the dead were all members of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army killed in combat with state security forces. The dead included a 12-year-old boy.
Top government officials and ordinary people on Tuesday gathered at the cemetery in Recak, 32 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital, Pristina.
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, himself a former KLA fighter, said that the “pain, blood and sacrifice of the people are not lost.”
Twenty years on, though, Albanians are not pleased that the international community is questioning their independence fighters about alleged crimes against Serbs during and after the war.