Srebrenica massacre victims remembered at UK memorial service

Victims of the worst massacre since the Second World War were remembered today at a service at Westminster Abbey.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serbs in 1995, during the Bosnian War.

During the atrocity, 20,000 refugees fled to Srebrenica - a town in northeastern Bosnia - to escape Serb forces. Despite the enclave being under the protection of UN Dutch soldiers, it was overrun by paramilitary troops led by Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, whose troops rounded up and slaughtered the men and boys in a matter of days, and who is now on trial at The Hague for genocide.

Around 2,000 people attended the service, including the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic

Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association, gave a speech in which she spoke "on behalf of thousands of mothers whose children were brutally murdered".

"Although it has been 20 years since this inhuman atrocity, some mothers are still searching for the bones of their children," she said.

Newly declassified documents show that although the UK, US and France did not know the extent of the massacre that was to happen, they were aware of a speech General Ratko Mladic made in which he made clear his intention to have the Bosniak Muslim population of the entire region "vanish completely", according to the Observer newspaper.

New evidence also shows that Western governments were aware of a directive issued by the Bosnian Serb military command which ordered "combat operations to create an unbearable situation of total insecurity of life with no hope of survival or life for inhabitants of Srebrenica and Žepa", as a result of uncovered memos and negotiations between top officials.

The service today marks the start of a week of memorial services which will be held across the UK. Prime Minister David Cameron, has pledged to spend €1.7m for the commemoration.

The money will in part pay for educational visits for British children to Bosnia, in order to keep the memory of the atrocity alive as part of an ongoing project.

Elsewhere, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will host a memorial service at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, on Friday.

Princess Anne will represent the UK in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, which is the official Srebrenica Memorial Day.