By Hrvoje Hranjski
Associated Press Writer
Ocala Star-Banner, p.5A
2 September 1994.
KARLOVAC, Croatia — Serbs are using terrorist tactics to drive Bosniaks from northern Bosnia, a U.N. official said Thursday, while another warned of rising tension among thousands of displaced Bosniaks camped in Croatia.
More than 20,000 refugees fled nearly two weeks ago following the defeat of their renegade Bosniak leader [war criminal and traitor Fikret Abdic] by troops of the Bosniak-led Bosnian government.
The United Nations is urging them to go home, but most still heed their leader, Fikret Abdic, who says they face persecution in Bosnia.
Abdic told U.N. officials Wednesday that he had not control over the refugees, U.N. spokesman Paul Risley said, adding that U.N. officials did not believe him.
“We think that Abdic’s soldiers and his associates, scattered among the refugees, have an effect on people’s minds,” Risley said in Karlovac, 30 miles south of Zagreb.
Abdic, who ruled the Bosniak-controlled northwestern corner of Bosnia known as the Bihac pocket, declared independence from the Bosnian government last year.
Following last month’s defeat, his followers fled to a Serb-held part of Croatia.
About 9,000 are squeezed into a narrow no-man’s land separating Serb-held territory from the government-controlled part of Croatia at the Turanj crossing south of Karlovac.
Another 16,000 refugees are at a makeshift camp at Batnoga, farther south in Serb-held territory.
The refugees demand safe passage via Croatia to western Europe.
The Croatian government, already burdened with 400,000 refugees, has refused to accept them, and no other country has stepped forward.
Risley said the Bosnian government promised amnesty and a six month exemption from military service for returning Abdic soldiers.
The United Nations has received reports that some Abdic’s men in Croatia had weapons, and there is concern that hundreds of Abdic soldiers could re-arm with Serb backing and attempt an offensive against the Bihac pocket.