Europe

Bosnian war: Aladza Mosque reopened after 1992 bombing

Intricate colourful artwork seen on mosque ceiling Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Aladza Mosque was known for its colourful design

Thousands of people have attended the re-opening of a renowned mosque in Bosnia, almost three decades since its destruction during the 1992-1995 war.

The Aladza Mosque in Foca was targeted at the start of the conflict as part of plans by Bosnian Serb forces to create an ethnically pure state.

The 16th Century mosque was considered a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture.

The restoration project has taken several years, with financial help from countries including Turkey.

The mosque was built around 1550 - where it stood until it was blown up by dynamite.

In 2018, a former Bosnian Serb soldier was charged for his part in planting the explosives.

Original parts of the mosque's stonework, which were dumped after its destruction, have been excavated.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Aladza mosque has been rebuilt after being totally destroyed
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Original stonework from the mosque on display at the site

Thousands of Muslims attended the mosque's reopening in Foca - where a total of 12 mosques were destroyed during the conflict.

Before the war, Muslims made up more than half the town's 41,000 population - but now little more than 1,000 live there, Reuters news agency reports.

Foca became notorious for the mass persecution and killings of non-Serbs that took place there during the conflict.

During the war, it was renamed Srbinje - but in 2004 Bosnia's top court ordered the reinstatement of its original name.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People seen praying at the historic site on Saturday
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In total, 12 mosques were destroyed in the town during the conflict

Members of Bosnia's Islamic Community have praised the reopening of the historic site.

"Today we are witnessing a hope that people will again find peace at this place," the groups head, Husein Kavazovic, said at the ceremony.

Turkish Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said the re-opening demonstrates that "racism and hatred can make material damage but cannot destroy culture of coexistence nourished for centuries".

The US special envoy to Bosnia said the building would now serve as a "beacon of reconciliation for future generations".

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