Zepa Massacre: More Than 200 Bosniak Civilians Murdered by Serbs

Zepa Massacre: More Than 200 Die in Serb Attack

By Robert H. Reid
The Item, p.2A

7 May 1993.

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A Serb assault on one of the last Bosniak outposts in eastern Bosnia has left more than 200 civilians dead and forces a mass exodus from the burning town, reports said today.

The capture of Zepa would bring Bosnia’s Serbs closer to their goal of uniting the entire region with Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

But the alliance appeared to have unraveled with the Bosnian Serbs’ repeated rejections of peace initiatives. Serbia, the main Yugoslav republic, said Thursday it would stop backing the rebel fighters.

The Clinton administration, meanwhile, seemed to gain some support among allies for air strikes and other military measures to attempt to halt the ethnic war.

Reports by Sarajevo radio and ham operators detailing deaths and destruction in Zepa could not be independently confirmed because there are not foreign observers there.

Fadil Heljic, a spokesman for Zepa civil authorities, said by ham radio that many of the 40,000 residents and refugees escaped from the burning town into the hills, looking for shelter in the forest and caves.

The Bosnian government implored the U.N. Security Council to evacuate more than 200 wounded civilians from Zepa, about 40 miles east of Sarajevo.

The council declared “safe havens” in Zepa and five other mainly Bosniak towns besieged by Serbs, but it didn’t back up the resolution with force.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York that Gen. Philippe Morillon, the U.N. commander in Bosnia, had negotiated an agreement on Zepa that would include a cease-fire, deployment of U.N. military observers and establishment of a safe haven. He had no further details.

Serb forces also were attacking in other parts of Bosnia. As many as three mosques were blown up late Thursday and early today in Banja Luka, said Peter Kessler, a U.N. relief spokesman in Zagreb, Croatia.

Belgrade’s decision to end support for Bosnian Serbs came hours after the self-styled Bosnian Serb parliament defied pleas by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and other Yugoslav leaders to accept a U.N. peace plan that calls for dividing Bosnia among the three warring factions.

The assembly said it wanted to hold a referendum on the plan May 15-16.

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