Bosnia doubts London pledges: Republic's leader says West will have to use force, as fighting rages unchecked in Sarajevo

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The Independent Online
THE BOSNIAN leader, Alija Izetbegovic, said yesterday that he did not believe in the impressive-sounding commitments on ending the Bosnian war that were announced in London on Thursday night. He said that the West would have to take military action, if Serbian pledges to the conference are not fulfilled.

Western politicians praised the London conference for the wide-ranging agreements reached, describing the meeting as a diplomatic triumph. But Mr Izetbegovic, in an interview with the Independent, said that there was a 'shortage of guarantees', and added that he did not trust Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbs' leader.

In Sarajevo, the conference decisions had no effect: the attacks continued unabated. The Bosnian presidency building was shaken by 15 mortar explosions in a single hour. The ceiling of the office of Stjepan Kljuic, a presidency member, caved in after one explosion, while he was talking to reporters.

The streets were strewn with rubble and glass from blasts that continued through the night. Reuters news agency reported that at least five people were killed, including two children.

Kate Adie, the BBC television reporter, narrowly escaped injury during the mortar attacks on the city when a piece of shrapnel ricocheted off her helmet.

Mr Izetbegovic, speaking before flying back from London via Zagreb to his beleaguered city, said: 'The aggressor isn't stopping the attacks. If the aggressor breaks the obligations stated in the documents of the conference, I think that some kind of military action will be necessary.' This would not involve ground troops, he said, but would require air and naval support.

He argued that it would be impossible to divide Bosnia into ethnic regions - as the Serbs wish to do - unless there is yet more 'ethnic cleansing'. 'Our ethnic map is intermingled - like a painting by Jackson Pollock. There are no ethnically pure regions.'

He angrily denied recent allegations by UN officials that Bosnian forces have shelled their own people to gain favourable publicity. 'Why should we prove something which has been proved already? One-hundred times, it has been proved that they have shelled civilians. Why should we do it for the 101st?'

The Western European Union (WEU) - in effect the defence arm of the European Community - pledged almost 5,000 troops to UN operations in Yugoslavia, including the 1,800 troops offered by Britain last week. The troops, which will be under UN command, will be used to ensure the safe transport of humanitarian aid and to supervise heavy weaponry. The WEU said it was ready to tighten sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, both in the Adriatic and on the Danube, where sanctions-busting is rife.

In Geneva, details emerged of some of the chilling evidence gathered by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the former Polish prime minister, who was recently appointed UN special envoy to Yugoslavia on human rights.

The UN's humanitarian arm, the UNHCR, released a document which a spokesman in Geneva compared to Nazi documents that laid down regulations for Jews. The document was issued by the new authorities ('war presidency') in the Serb-held Bosnian town of Celinac.

Non-Serbs are banned from restaurants and other public places, forbidden to travel, to communicate with relatives outside the area or to use a private telephone; they are obliged to take part in compulsory work, forbidden to leave their homes after 4pm and forbidden to 'disgrace the battle of the Serbian people for their liberty'.

Citizens who carry out 'negative activities' are not allowed any contact with their neighbours and must stay at home 'from 00.00 to 24.00, unless called up for work'. The regulations took effect on

2 August, and disrespect 'will have consequences in accordance with valid regulations'. Muslims have to fly white flags outside their houses.

Among the guarantees given in London this week is a commitment from Mr Karadzic that he will hand over control of all heavy weaponry to the United Nations. But a British official acknowledged yesterday that 'the clock has not started' on this process, which has yet to be agreed by all sides at the talks sponsored jointly by the United Nations and the European Community that are opening in Geneva next week.

They will be co-chaired by Lord Owen and the former US Secretary of State,

Cyrus Vance.

Interview, reports. . .8

Leading article. . . . .14

Faith and Reason. . . .35

(Photograph omitted)