By 1st Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#125, October 31, 2001
Foreign legionnaires and alpine infantrymen from
the French Battle Group (FRBG) restored the ancient cemetery of
Sabaci to its original state.
Sabici - The village of Sabici is about 15 kilometres
south of Sarajevo, set back from Mount Igman, at the bottom of
the Bjelasnica massif, where the 1984 Olympic games took place.
Living conditions there are very basic and it is often described
as "a village at the end of the world." Situated at
an altitude of 1,000 metres, access is by dirt tracks and snow
is sometimes present from November till May.
Nevertheless, the place has been occupied for many centuries.
In particular, a necropolis comprised of "stecaks" (gravestones)
from the Bogomils sect era is located there. This Christian group
started in the 10th century in Bulgaria. "Bogomil" comes
from Bulgarian words "Bog," God, and "Mil,"
of this faith had a dualist conception of Creation, with Good
and Evil. They inspired another movement which expanded rapidly
in the 11th century in the southwest of France: Cathars or Albigensians.
In the 13th century, these last sects, as well as the Bogomils,
were considered heretics by the Roman Church and were driven off
by the crusades. Favorable reception of Bogomil faith in Bosnia
and Herzegovina (BiH) is attributed to the wish of local principalities
to escape the influence of their neighbours, Croats (Catholics)
and Serbs (Orthodoxes) (see SFOR Informer #118, July 25, 2001).
During the war which affected BiH in the first part of 1990's,
Sabici was for a long time on the front line between Bosniacs
and Bosnian-Serbs. Between 1993 and 1995, French blue helmets
from Infantry Battalion No. 5 (BATINF 5) of United Nations Protection
Force (UNPROFOR) set up a check-point there. The building of shelters
there led to the discovery of new vestiges of the necropolis next
to the Moslem cemetery.
After the conflict, the Institute for the Protection of Sarajevo's
Historic, Cultural and Natural Patrimony organised a campaign
of archaeological excavations which took place last July and August.
After the project ended, BiH authorities and the United Nations
Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) made
a request to the French Embassy that troops of its contingent
restore the site to its original state.
Engineering works were done on Oct. 16 by a detachment from the
2nd Engineer French Foreign Legion Regiment (2e rgiment tranger
de gnie, 2e REG) and from the 27th Alpine Chasseurs Battalion
(27e bataillon de chasseurs alpins, 27e BCA), sent by the FRBG
from Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE). Engineering equipment
consisted of a front-loader and a tipper lorry from the Foreign
Legion's Direct Support Field Troop, and a tactical fuel lorry
from the alpine Command Support and Logistics Field Squadron from
Petrol and Ammunitions Supply Service.
Soldiers sent to Sabici have been very efficient, they accomplished
in a day a project that had been planed to take four days.
Nations of SFOR: France