Ethnic Albanians solemnly filed past charred and bullet-riddled corpses shrouded by long white sheets, trying Tuesday to recognize relatives who died in last week's police crackdown in Kosovo province.
Serb police have threatened to bury the dead in a mass grave if the decomposing bodies are not claimed Tuesday. Relatives charge the Serbs want to cover up atrocities by swiftly burying the dead; the relatives want independent autopsies before accepting the bodies.At least four children and a dozen women were among the corpses lying on the construction yard floor. Some were missing limbs, apparently blown off in explosions. A few were burned beyond recognition.
"Look what the Serb savages did. They killed women and children," said a man who identified himself only as Fazli. "How does anyone expect us to forget this terrible massacre?"
Turmoil in Kosovo, a southern province of Yugoslavia, has caused fears that neighboring Balkan countries might be drawn into the conflict. Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs in Kosovo 9-1 and many want to secede from Serbia, the dominant republic in the Yugoslav federation.
The official death toll from last week's violence is 46 ethnic Albanians and six Serb police. The Albanians say at least 77 of their ethnic group died in two police sweeps last week through a region west of Pristina, Kosovo's capital. Twenty-five were buried last week at a funeral attended by 30,000 mourners.
A list published in the local Koha Ditore newspaper identified 29 of those killed, among them were 22 members of Adem Jashari's family. Serbs say Jashari was the leader of a militant group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Reporters were bused to the shed containing the bodies by Serb authorities who gave them only a few moments to examine the bodies. The stench of decomposing flesh was overpowering.
Police stood guard at the entrance to the shed and an armored personnel carrier was parked with its gun turret pointed at the crowd of mourners. The group of mostly men came to the construction yard on mountain paths, by foot or tractor, to this deserted town some 25 miles west of Pristina.
The top U.S. envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, arrived in Pristina in search of a diplomatic solution to the violence.
olution to the violence.