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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Soldier Killed In Bosnian Accident

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Under an oak tree on a sodden hill, a UN investigator examined grisly corpses in an area where 7,000 Bosnian Moslems disappeared after Serb rebels overran the Srebrenica enclave last summer.


But despite investigator Elizabeth Rehn's visit Sunday, it remained unclear how many bodies were in mass graves or were scattered in nearby hills like the four she found.


In Sarajevo, a spokesman for the NATO-led Implementation Force corrected a previous official statement, making clear that the death of a U.S. soldier Saturday was not caused by a land mine.


"He was killed in a rather stupid way. He apparently picked up a piece of unexploded ammunition from the side of the road and it exploded in his hands," said the spokesman, describing the death of Sergeant First Class Donald Dugan, 38, of Belle Center, Ohio.


He died of wounds to the face, chest and hands, said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Earlier the U.S. Army had said Dugan had died after a land mine exploded at a checkpoint near the town of Gradacac, 40 kilometers north of Tuzla.


Rehn, the UN Human Rights Commission's special investigator for former Yugoslavia, said Bosnian Serb officials she met Sunday told her "that there are missing people and that they certainly are dead."


The Serbs claim the missing Moslem men died in fighting as they fled.


Rehn viewed the unburied remains in a wooded area atop a steep hill reached on a winding dirt track near the village of Kravica, one site of alleged mass killings a few kilometers from Srebrenica.


One skeleton was in a green military uniform and still wearing leather boots, the other three nearby were wearing blue jeans and other civilian garb.


Between them lay a smashed alarm clock, a nylon sports bag, a soggy notebook and a handful of knives and forks.


"Surely, these are soldiers. It's clear from their identification papers," Rehn said.


But she said it would be "naive" to accept the Serb explanation that the bodies were those of Moslem fighters who killed each other in a dispute over whether to surrender during their retreat from Srebrenica.


Another skeleton, clothed in green khakis but without the skull, lay alongside the dirt road.


"The fact is that we have a tragedy all over this hill," said Rehn, a former Finnish defense minister.


Rehn urged Serb authorities to allow war crimes investigators to open suspected mass graves around Srebrenica.


She also fulfilled a promise she made to female refugees from Srebrenica in Sarajevo who believe the Bosnian Serbs are holding their sons and husbands in secret forced labor camps.


Accompanied by Srebrenica Mayor Milenko Canic, Rehn viewed the locked basements of a downtown supermarket and elementary school. She found no evidence they were used as prisons.


Also Sunday, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher he would permit the U.S. Information Agency to open an office in Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian province whose autonomy the Serbian leader quashed in 1989. But Milosevic again rejected U.S. appeals to turn over war crimes suspects to the international tribunal, saying they should be tried where the crimes were committed.


In Sarajevo, NATO increased its presence in disputed districts, partly to soothe the Bosnian government's anger at the West for permitting Serb police to stay beyond a withdrawal deadline.


The warring parties apparently met a deadline Saturday to pull out of land promised to their former enemies under the Bosnia peace plan.


But Serb police remained in Sarajevo despite the protests of the Bosnian government, which formally took control of the entire city, including five Serb-held districts, on Saturday.