Kentucky New Era, p.10B
24 June 1992.
By Tony Smith
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — About 100 women, children and elderly refugees from the embattled suburb of Dobrinja waved a white towel, then dashed across a bridge to the relative safety of the city center.
In voices enfeebled by hunger and exhaustion, they told grim tales of what they had escaped: summary executions of relatives, friends and neighbors by Serb gunmen.
They told of husbands and fathers marched away at gunpoint, of streets strewn with corpses.
Meho Sljivo, 17, said the Serbs seized his apartment block six days ago, rounded up all non-Serb males and forced them to stand against a wall with their hands raised, as if for a firing squad.
They called all the relatives around and selected one man — Sljivo’s father. Shouting “Watch this!” they shot him, the teen-ager mumbled.
Then, he said, they shot Sljivo’s distraught 83-year-old grandmother after she had begged: “Please kill me too, I want to die with my son.”
Other refugees said more men were gunned down before the group was marched off to Kula, a prison near Dobrinja that has become a whispered synonym for death and torture. They said men 18 and older were taken away separately.
The refugees were released without warning early Monday, driven through Serb-held parts of Sarajevo and dumped in the middle of a deadly no man’s land.
Reports of atrocities by Serbian nationalists in Dobrinja have surfaced for several weeks, but the stories heard Monday were the first major first-person accounts. There was no way to independently confirm the reports or to seek the alleged Serb tormentors for comment.
Dobrinja, a highrise suburb of 30,000 before the war and the site of the 1984 Olympic Village, is suffering a siege within a siege in the 2.5 month battle for Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital of 300,000.
Food supplies are running so low that residents have been reported to be supplementing a diet of bread and water with grass and herbs from local parks. Medicine is also in short supply.
Sarajevo today came under sporadic shelling and gunfire in an extension of heavy attacks Monday that killed 21 and wounded 135. Bosnian radio said grenades fell on the Muslim old town and bridges over the Miljacka River.
It said there were an unspecified number of dead and wounded.
Several civilians were wounded in shelling near the Bosnian presidency building, and a police station was on fire, government officials said.
Bosnian radio reported two dead in fighting near Tuzla, north of Sarajevo.
“Last night was very disturbing, which we expected as the result of yesterday’s horrific events,” said Brig. Gen. Lewis Mackenzie, chief of U.N. peacekeeping troops in Sarajevo.
Dobrinja is adjacent the airport, which U.N. peacekeepers have been trying without success to open for relief flights. Mackenzie has said he will not attempt to reopen the airport unless a cease-fire holds for at least 48 hours.
The refugees from Dobrinja said streets of the western suburb were scattered with corpses when they left.
Members of a separate group that fled to avoid capture during a Serbian attack on Friday told of crawling over corpses in ditches to escape sniper fire. Of the 40 who left, only 26 arrived after a four-hour trek over a half-mile no-man’s land.
The city is surrounded by units of ethnic Serbs, whose ethnic group makes up about one-third of Bosnia’s 4.3 million people.