Civilians Killed as Bosnian Cease-fire nears
The Item, p. 10A
8 October 1995.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Serbs shelled two government-held towns in northern Bosnia today, killing two people hours before a U.S.-sponsored truce was to take effect.
A day earlier, Serb shelling in the northeast killed at least 13 people and wounded almost 100.
NATO sent warplanes streaking over northern Bosnia on Sunday but did not strike, citing bad weather. Alliance jets were back over the area today, ready to hit Serb guns if U.N. personnel were directly threatened, said Maj. Donald Roy, a U.N. military spokesman in Zagreb, Croatia.
There was a sharp increase in shelling throughout that area, with some shells landing 100 yards from the U.N. air base just outside the government stronghold of Tuzla, said U.N. spokeswoman Maj. Myriam Sochacki.
The Serb attacks and a general surge in fighting could jeopardize the truce due to take force at one minute after midnight (7:01 p.m. Monday EDT), U.N. spokesmen warned.
“We hope that the parties, especially the Bosnian Serbs, will come to their senses and enable this cease-fire to happen,” said U.N. spokesman Jim Landale.
Fighting and killing commonly pick up as the sides battle for land and bargaining power ahead of the countless cease-fires that have given false hope to Bosnians over the past 3.5 years.
Early today, Serb shells slammed into Zivinice, nine miles south of Tuzla, killing two people and wounding 10, according to government officials and hospital workers.
The shelling Sunday targeted two refugee camps and a village in the north.
Shelling in a camp in Zivinice killed 10 people, including four children, and wounded 34, said U.N. spokesman Maj. Ludo Hupperts.
At the other camp, at the Tuzla air base, shells killed one person and wounded six.
Two people died and 50 were injured in an attack on Tesanjka, Hupperts said. Bosnian television showed a dead child and wounded people on the streets of the tiny northern village, where cars and houses were also destroyed.
Bosnian Croats reported that Serb jets dropped two cluster bombs near Tesanjka in the Usora River valley Sunday afternoon.
Roy said NATO picked up three jet tracks around the time the Croats reported the Usora valley attack, but NATO aircraft could not react before the planes returned to the Serb stronghold of Banja Luka.
There have been repeated reports of Serb air attacks recently in violation of a U.N. no-fly zone over Bosnia. NATO war planes have shot down violators in the past, but the alliance claims the aircraft violating the zone recently have not stayed in the air long enough for the alliance to take action.
Today, the Serbs reported what the Belgrade news agency Tanjug called heavy shelling of Serb-held Mrkonjic Grad, south of Banja Luka. One woman was killed and three people were wounded when abotu 200 shells fell on the town, Tanjug said. There was no U.N. confirmation.
The truce is supposed to quiet battle fronts ahead of peace talks in the United States on Oct. 25 that U.S. negotiators hope those will lead to an international peace conference in Paris.
The latest peace plan, sponsored by the United States, is given the best chance for success because the warring sides are engaged in peace talks and seem anxious to end the fighting.
President Alija Izetbegovic denounced the Serbs as terrorists Sunday night but said the attacks would not derail the cease-fire.
The truce can only take effect, however, if utilities are fully restored to the besieged capital, Sarajevo.
The government also wants roads open to besieged Gorazde, the only Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia.