Nine more elderly Serbs have been found slain in a Croatian village, apparently by men in Croatian Army uniforms, according to senior United Nations officials who condemned the Croats once again Wednesday for atrocities against Serbian civilians.
The bodies of the victims, who ranged in age from 75 to 82, were discovered by relatives in Varivode in the southern Krajina region last week.
The latest slayings are “the worst single act of killing since the Croat military authorities took control of the area” in August, a U.N. spokesman in Knin, Alun R. Roberts, said Wednesday.
The United Nations has accused Croatian troops of torturing and killing ethnic Serbian civilians since Croatian forces recaptured the Krajina region from secessionist Serbs.
The Croatian offensive drove out more than 120,000 Serbs, many of whom had lived in the Krajina for generations. Only about 3,500 remained, most of them too elderly or infirm to flee.
Those who stayed behind have been harassed and have seen their homes looted and burned by Croatian troops, according to United Nations officials.
More than 120 Serbs, most older than 60, have been slain in the last two months, and United Nations monitors in the Krajina said they were finding four to six bodies a day.
The U.N. commander in Knin, Brig. Gen. Alain Forand, said the violence by the Croats in the Krajina was “out of control.”
In a statement released in Geneva on Wednesday, Jose Ayala Lasso, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “Investigations conducted by United Nations monitors suggest that many of the deaths occurred long after the military operation was over and were caused by bullet wounds in the head or chest.”
“Signs of torture were clearly visible in some instances,” he said. “Most of the victims were elderly or incapacitated civilians, and at least three of these were burnt to death in their homes.”
U.N. officials who visited Varivode on Sept. 11 said the 17 Serbs who remained in the village were alive and in good health. But during a visit on Monday, U.N. officials found the names of nine of the Varivode villagers on fresh graves in the cemetery in Knin, about 20 miles northeast of the village.