New mass graves reports from Kosovo coming in by the hour
June 17, 1999
From CNN Correspondent Carl Rochelle and Producer Chris Plante
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A NATO intelligence data base tracking mass grave sites in Kosovo now estimates that there are "95 suspected mass grave sites in Kosovo" and officials tell CNN that number appears to be growing.
War crimes investigators are "literally receiving hourly reports from KFOR contingents (in Kosovo) that are coming across new sites," a State Department official told CNN. "It's clear that there is a lot of stuff out there," said the official who asked not to be quoted by name.
The investigators define "mass grave" as any site that appears to hold more than one body.
Pentagon officials said Wednesday that the NATO data base has been collecting information on possible mass graves since the start of the air war against Yugoslavia March 24.
The State Department Monday released a statement saying that there were 85 potential mass graves in the shattered Yugoslav province.
Many of the sites were placed on the list of suspected mass graves based on reports from displaced Kosovar-Albanian refugees in Macedonian and Albanian refugee camps.
NATO has tried to corroborate the claims by matching them to stories told by other refugees, or through "technical means" such as reconnaissance aircraft or satellites.
"Locations of the suspected grave sites comes from multiple sources including aerial imagery, refugee interviews and intelligence reports," a NATO statement says.
"It's clear that they are coming across some fairly alarming things," said the State Department official.
The official also cautioned that "sometimes what appears to be a mass grave may not turn out to be."
NATO troops are making an effort to protect sites where evidence of war crimes has been discovered. Currently, officials say, there are at least five suspected locations under guard.
These sites include: three suspected mass grave sites near Koronica discovered by Dutch peacekeepers; one site at Lukanja discovered by German troops, and a site at Kacanik discovered by the British.
U.S., Russia near deal on Russian troops in KFOR
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