INFORMATION ON WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY
CROATIAN ARMY TROOPS AGAINST SERB
CIVILIAN POPULATION ON THE SRBOBRAN - JAJCE ROAD
ON SEPTEMBER 13, 1995
Following the attack launched by Croatian Army troops against Srbobran (Donji Vakuf) on September 13, 1995, Serb civilian population, most of whom were women, children and elderly, fleeing from the Croatian Army attack was moving by animal-drawn carts, tractors, buses, trucks and on foot from Srbobran and its surroundings toward Jajce and Banja Luka. A large number of civilians were driving their cattle ahead of them.
On September 13, 1995, some 3 km before Jajce, at a place called Bravnica, members of the Croatian Army 2nd Guards Brigade ambushed and attacked that column moving from Srbobran toward Jajce. They started relentlessly killing the unarmed civilians in the column who were completely taken by surprise. Civilian population offered no resistance whatsoever.
During the attack some were immediately killed and some were wounded. According to the testimonies given by eye-witnesses, more than half of the passengers from only one bus (50 seats plus 30 persons who were standing) were killed and wounded as a result of the fire opened by Croatian Army troops. Moreover, they also launched a "Zolja" missile at that same bus full of victims and set it on fire together with the wounded and dead inside it.
A first-hand account of the suffering of Serb population in that column has been given by eye-witnesses from the column who had actually seen what had happened and who had lost some of their closest kin or they themselves had been seriously wounded. Their minutes have been taken by examining magistrates. In order to safeguard confidentiality of witnesses their names have been left out and given instead code numbers under which their statements are filed with the Committee Compiling Data on Crimes Against Humanity and International Law.
From their statements it is clearly seen that Croatian Army has undertaken measures to remove evidence by taking away the bodies of the killed people without delay. This is why the exact numbers of the killed and wounded are yet to be established. However, it may doubtlessly be concluded that there have been a large number of victims.
Witness 715/95-12, 58 years of age, from that refugee column, stated:
"... I was on a bus overcrowded with passengers so that not only all the seats were occupied but a large number of men, women and children had to stand.
When the bus, moving in a refugee column consisting of tractors and animal-drawn carts, reached the village of Bravnica, some 3 km before Jajce, members of the Croatian Army deployed there opened fire at the bus and killed most of the passengers on it. After that they set the bus on fire burning thus all the bodies of the killed and wounded inside it.
The Croatian Army troops were relentlessly killing Serbs in the column, most often women, children and elderly, including also those who were going on foot and driving their cattle. I saw Croatian soldiers shooting at the column moving ahead of and behind my bus. Soldiers were shooting at all that was moving.
Somehow I managed to jump out of the bus through the window and save myself.
Croatian soldiers caught me and closed me in a nearby house in which there were 33 of us. There were 18 wounded among us though. However, women and children comprised the majority.
They loaded the wounded on a truck and drove them away. I know nothing of their whereabouts.
I know that scores of Serbs in the column moving from Srbobran to Jajce were killed and that the Srbobran-Jajce road was jammed with the column of refugees.
I saw that the following were killed:
1-2. Two children of Novo Janković.
One of the children fell and his intestines came out while the other died in his grand-father¢ s arms. Croatian soldiers retained their dead bodies saying: ¢ We have to bury them¢ . They took them away some-place..."
Witness 715/95-13, 61 years of age, stated:
"...I had lived in the village until September 13, 1995, when I took to flight from Srbobran and headed toward Jajce with 9 members of my family: my wife, two daughters-in-law and five children, from 7 to 16 years of age. We took with us only our most essential personal belongings. In Srbobran we climbed onto a bus overcrowded with people fleeing toward Jajce and Banja Luka. All the seats were occupied and nobody could make even the slightest move in the bus.
A big freight vehicle crowded with people was moving ahead of the bus. There must have been about 100 people on it.
When we set out from Srbobran to Jajce the bus was passing a very long column of tractors, animal-drawn carts and people driving their cattle, as well as a large number of trucks loaded with people fleeing toward Jajce.
All of a sudden when we approached Bravnica fierce fire was opened at the bus and column moving ahead of and behind it. A large number of passengers on the bus were killed. Somehow I managed to get out of it. We started rescuing wounded and killed from the bus. I took out of it my wife who was wounded in the head and
3. my grand-son Borisav,
who was also wounded. He died an hour later. My grand-daughter Dijana was also wounded. I managed to take out of the bus my daughter-in-law Anđelka who was also wounded and had her left arm severed as a result. I also took out of the bus the son of my elder daughter-in-law Mira. He was wounded in the right arm.
Also, during that attack were shot my daughter-in-law
4. Mira and her daughter
They remained laying dead inside the bus that was suddenly hit with a ¢ Zolja¢ missile. It went up in flames. The bodies of my daughter-in-law and her daughter Danijela that remained inside the bus burnt together with it. I really do not know how many people remained inside the bus. Most of them were unfamiliar to me because they came from different villages. All those who remained inside the bus burnt together with it.
There were many women, children and elderly helpless people.
Soldiers who had previously opened fire and launched a ¢ Zolja¢ missile at the bus, ordered us who came out of it to follow them and took us to a house.
They detained me and a group of Serb civilians, women and children in a house in the village of Bravnica for five days. After that, they took us to Livno where we were imprisoned in a sports hall. We stayed there for 5 days. We were exchanged nearby Bosanska Gradiška.
My wife who was wounded was also exchanged with me.
In the bus was also the wife of my brother Ranko with her three children:
6. her son Velibor, about 14 years of age,
7. her daughter Daliborka, 23 years of age, with her son
8. Dragan, 6 years of age.
All the three children were killed. Only my daughter-in-law - the wife of my brother Ranko and her daughter Suzana were saved. They are currently being treated at a hospital.
I do not know the names of other killed persons because they were not from my village.
The Croatian Army troops opened fire not only at the bus but at the whole column moving ahead of and behind the bus. When I left the bus I saw scores of killed people laying on the road. The Croatian Army troops killed not only fleeing Serbs but also the cattle driven by Serb people, as well as horses drawing carts. I do not know how many people were killed but I did see scores of victims laying on the vehicles and by them on the road..."
Witness 715/95-14 stated:
"... I had lived in Srbobran until September 13, 1995, when it was attacked by the members of the Moslem Army. People were leaving their houses and flats and heading toward Jajce and Banja Luka. Fleeing Serbs in a very long column were moving mainly on tractors, animal-drawn carts and buses. A large number of inhabitants were driving their cattle and moving on foot.
I managed to climb onto one of the buses together with my disabled son, born in 1968, in Bugojno. He had half his foot amputated.
When we had reached the village of Bravnica, fierce fire was opened from all directions.
A large number of passengers inside the bus were shot to death while some of us managed to climb out of the bus. I got out of the bus and managed to take my son out of it as well. Then there was a strong detonation. The bus which had been hit was caught on fire from all sides and went up in flames.
A large number of the killed and wounded remained inside the bus and burnt with it. I do not know the exact number of the people left inside the bus. The bus burnt to the ground.
When I climbed out of the bus I saw scores of killed people from the column moving ahead of and behind the bus.
Among the killed inside the bus I knew only the bus driver
9. Zdravko Bandulaja who had lived in Srbobran.
Suddenly, Croatian soldiers appeared on the spot and ordered us to carry the wounded with us to a nearby house. First they singled out the wounded and allegedly took them to be treated at a hospital.
My son was taken to Mostar. I do not know anything about him..."
Witness 715/95-15, 67 yeras of age, stated:
"... On September 13, 1995, I set out from Srbobran together with Serb people toward Jajce and Banja Luka. At a petrol station I managed to climb onto the bus heading toward Jajce together with my wife and my sister. When we had reached the village of Bravnica fierce fire was opened from all directions at the bus and at the column moving ahead of and behind it. The bus immediately came to a stop. Concentrated fire was being opened at the bus. A large number of passengers inside the bus were immediately killed. I was among those who managed to flee the bus the moment it had stopped.
In the bus remained my sister
10. Milja Avramović, born in 1924, in the village of Barbarići nearby Bugojno.
When I left the bus, it exploded and went up in flames.
We tried to rescue the passengers from the bus. While trying to rescue my still alive sister from the bus my hair caught on fire and burnt. However, I did not succeed in taking her out. I do not know how many people remained inside that bus but I do know that all of them completely burnt down with it.
When we came out of the bus the shooting was still going on..."
Woman witness 715/95-16, 60 years of age, a housewife, stated:
"... On September 13, 1995, I set out on a bus from Srbobran to Jajce. An exceptionally long column of tractors, animal-drawn carts and people driving their cattle was heading toward that direction.
Our bus came to a village some 3 km before Jajce. Then they started shooting at the bus. I managed to flee the bus with several other passengers. After the bus had been hit with a shell it went up in flames. A large number of passengers who remained inside the bus burnt with it.
On the animal-drawn cart in the column nearby the bus was my son-in law:
11. Mihajlo Zeljko, from the village of Blagaj nearby Vakuf.
There was with him also his wife, that is my daughter
12. Jovanka Mihajlo,
as well as their three children. During the attack, my daughter and my son-in-law were killed while one of their sons was wounded. I took the other two children with me and little Jovan was taken by Croatian Army. I believe that he is probably being treated at some hospital.
I was taken together with children to Livno and was exchanged later..."
Witness 715/95-17, 62 years of age, a pensioner, stated:
"... A large number of residents of Srbobran waited for the bus onto which my wife and I climbed. It moved on and we passed many trailers pulled by tractors, animal-drawn carts and people going on foot...
There were many wounded and killed persons inside the bus. Since I was sitting on the seat on the left side at the rear wheel of the bus I managed to jump through the window. I helped my wounded wife to get out of it as well. As soon as we came out of the bus it went up in flames and from that moment on it was impossible to climb onto it again. All the wounded and killed remained inside it and their bodies burnt together with the bus. I do not know how many people remained inside the bus.
I know that the bus driver Zdravko Bandulaja, about 40-45 years of age, from the village of Šalići, remained inside the bus. His body remained inside the bus because he was among the first who had been shot..."
Witness 818/95-21 stated:
"... On September 13, I climbed onto the bus with my old mother in Srbobran. The bus set out to Jajce. There were many passengers on the bus - all of them elderly, women and children.
While we were approaching the village of Bravnica, we heard shooting directed at the column we were moving in. Moans were heard inside the bus because there were many wounded and killed. When the bus stopped we started running. However, Croatian Army soldiers appeared and caught us.
Later I heard that 22 passengers were killed and 15 were wounded inside that bus.
The following were killed:
13. Stojan Kaurin, 70 years of age, from Srbobran,
14. his daughter-in-law and
15. his grand-son, as well as
16-21. six members of the Janković family.
While approaching the place where the bus had stopped, I saw scores of turned over animal-drawn carts on the road and bodies of dead people laying by them. I would not be able to give a precise estimate as to the number of killed people along that section of the road. We were exposed to precise fire at a close range..."
Witness 818/95-12 stated:
"... On September 13, 1995, I was on the animal-drawn cart moving in a refugee column heading toward Jajce. In front of the village of Bravnica fierce fire was opened at the column. On that occasion, my daughter and son moving on the animal-drawn cart ahead of me were wounded. My daughter was wounded in the head and my son was wounded in the hip and in the right leg.
My neighbour¢ s children, 13 and 17 years of age, told me that their parents Mihajlo and Jovanka Zeljko had remained laying in a pool of blood on the road..."
Witness 818/95-12 stated:
"... On September 13, 1995, I was on the animal-drawn cart moving toward Jajce together with my three children. We had to move in a column because ahead of us and behind us there were a large number of animal-drawn carts, trailers pulled by tractors, passenger cars and trucks.
At the village of Bravnica fire was opened at us resulting in a large number of killed and wounded. On that occasion I was wounded in both my feet. My younger son, born in 1979, was also wounded in the abdominal part, thorax and head..."
Woman witness 818/95-2 was also in the column moving from Srbobran toward Jajce on September 13, 1995. She stated:
"... I climbed onto the bus with my old granny and sat on the seat at the rear of the bus. It was a very large bus. Since all the seats were occupied passengers had to stand in between the seats. I am positive that there must have been around 80 passengers.
When we approached the village of Bravnica fierce fire was opened both at the bus and at the animal-drawn carts moving in a column by the bus. Bullets piercing window-panes of the bus resulted in screams and moans of the many wounded and killed people inside the bus. Immediately after that, the bus stopped and we started coming out of it.
While still on the bus I felt severe pain in my right leg, thorax and in my head. I got out of the bus crawling on my hands and knees. I saw that my granny¢ s leg was almost severed from the knee downward hanging only on a tiny piece of skin. Thereafter arrived Croatian soldiers covered with disguise: they had green bands tied round their heads and their faces were painted with some kind of yellowish and greenish colour.
While still on the bus, that is before it had stopped, I saw that the fire was also opened at the column of vehicles moving ahead of and behind the bus. I saw killed people, including children, falling from those vehicles. In front of the bus I saw the body of Marinko Zeljko, a young boy, and the body of his sister Marijana.
I know that inside the bus were killed
22-23. two children and
24. a woman.
I saw a mother carrying out of the bus her child though I did not know whether it was alive. On that occasion was killed
25. mother of Svetlana Gudalo from Turbet.
I know that
26. a mother
was also killed leaving after herself two children 4 and 7 years of age.
Later I learnt that the members of the 2nd Guards Brigade of the Croatian Army participated in the attack on the bus..."
1. The members of the 2nd Guards Brigade of the Croatian Army are responsible for killing of Serb civilian population.