August 28, 1995: Sarajevo Markale market massacre

On this day in 1995, a mortar launched by the Army of the Republika Srpska at a market in Sarajevo killed 43 civilians and wounded another 84.

We usually associate terrorism with what are called ‘non-state actors’: state actors are equally capable.

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA — There are many examples in history of individuals who try their best to make what they can of a very bad situation. If you have ever seen Robin Williams in the film Jakob the Liar you know what I mean. Williams played a man in the Warsaw Ghetto who makes up fakes news about Allied offensives to inspire hope for other victims of the Nazi regime.

Another good illustration of fiction emulating real life was the novel The Cellist of Sarajevo: here is what Amazon had to say about it:

In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory.

The events portrayed in the novel were all too real. The war in the former Yugoslavia was brutal, as most wars are. Civilians were massacred. Women were gang raped. Whole towns were obliterated. And terrorist attacks were carried out.

On this day in 1995

On this day in 1995 several shells were fired from Army of Republika Srpska positions at the centre of the besieged city of Sarajevo, one of which fell in front of the northern entrance to the city’s Markale market in Mula Mustafe Baseskije Street, killing 43 and wounding 84 people.

We were together that day, but I went to the Eternal Flame and he stayed at the market. When the shell fell, I ran towards the market and saw that my brother had been killed. They did not let me through, but I saw my dead brother on the handrails.

Despite official denials for years a tribunal in The Hague sentenced two former commanders of the Sarajevo-Romania Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska for the shelling campaign against Sarajevo. Stanislav Galic was sentenced to life imprisonment and Dragomir Milosevic to 29 years in prison.

The massacre at Markale was one of many in the war. And it was perpetrated by a state body, not a ‘non-state actor’. For when it comes to terrorism there are far too many players to keep track of.

More ‘today in terrorism’

    By Phil Gurski

    Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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