On November 18th, Škabrnja and Vukovar will mark the 32nd anniversary of the brutal attack that resulted in the martyrdom of civilians and defenders under the command of Ratko Mladić. During this attack, members of the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitary units killed 43 civilians and 15 Croatian defenders in Mučka. In total, Škabrnja had 56 civilian victims and 25 killed defenders during the Homeland War.
Unfortunately, after the war ended, six more local residents lost their lives due to residual mines and explosives. By the time Škabrnja was liberated in Military and Police Operation Storm in 1995, a total of 86 people had been killed there.
The attack on Škabrnja began early on November 18th, with two columns of tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry trucks coming from different directions – one via Zemunik Gornji and another from Biljan Donjih. The Chetniks and JNA forces reached the center of the village and Church of Assumption only in the evening. They forced captured veterans and civilians to stand in front of tanks as human shields before killing them mercilessly.
Civilians were mainly women, children, and elderly who were hiding in basements or other protected spaces when they were forcibly dragged out by their captors. Many were killed instantly while others were massacred with brutality beyond imagination. Despite being warned about impending danger, Zorana Banić – a former nurse convicted for her crimes committed during this horrific event – was released from prison in October 2007 without serving a full term sentence for her role in these atrocities committed against innocent people.
On this day we remember all those who suffered at hands of aggressors; we honor their memory by commemorating their loss with various government officials participating including laying wreaths at memorial sites like St Luke’s cemetery for those buried there as well as a holy mass dedicated to all victims of Homeland War followed by ‘Step by Step’ walk towards peace symbolizing progression from pain to hope towards reconciliation process taking place today among nations affected by such conflicts.
Let us never forget these heinous acts committed against innocent people!