A special ceremony has taken place in the Bosnian town of Mostar to mark the laying of the keystone of the town's famous old bridge. The bridge is listed as a World Heritage site but it was destroyed ten years ago during the Bosnian war. It is costing twenty million dollars to rebuild the bridge and some nearby buildings. This report from Nick Hawton.
As hundreds of people watched from the river-bank, a crane slowly lowered the final stone slab into place, bringing together the two sides of the single arched bridge - an emotional moment for many of those present.
When the 16th century construction was destroyed by Bosnian Croat forces in November 1993, it seemed to symbolise the complete disintegration in relations between Bosnia's Muslims, Croats and Serbs and the country's descent into all-out war. Mostar itself saw bitter fighting between Muslim and Croat.
Since the war the rebuilding of the 'Stari Most' or 'Old Bridge', has been seen as a priority, helping to demonstrate how much the country has moved on from those dark days. The bridge's reconstruction and that of surrounding buildings is costing around twenty million dollars, money provided by a World Bank loan and donations from countries such as Turkey, the Netherlands and Croatia. Work will not be complete until the New Year and it will be spring 2004 before it is finally reopened to the public.