French commandos fly into Sarajevo

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Agencies) - The first of a contingent of 125 French marine commandos landed at Sarajevo airport yesterday to reinforce United Nations peace- keeping forces there.

The commandos will help the 34 UN troops at the airport to make it secure for flights bringing aid to the 300,000 people besieged in the city by Serbian forces.

An RAF Hercules loaded with aid for Sarajevo will fly from Lyneham, Wiltshire, early this morning for Zagreb. Once there it will come under UN control and the intention is that it should proceed to Sarajevo if the situation at the airport permits. Three other RAF Hercules are on stand-by.

The French commando unit is not big enough to protect all the airport but will secure main buildings and hangars until a larger Canadian detachment arrives.

General Lewis MacKenzie, commander of UN troops at the airport, said the French had started arriving but about 1,000 Canadian troops, on their way to Sarajevo from Croatia, were making slower progress than expected.

A second UN convoy of food and medical supplies reached the city yesterday, and relief workers began distributing food. A UN official called the 15-ton convoy, delivered on Tuesday by a French aircraft, 'a drop in the ocean'. 'Fifteen tons are enough emergency rations for 30,000 people for one day,' he said.

The UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, flew into London last night ready for talks with John Major on the situation in Yugoslavia. Mr Boutros Ghali, who flew from Geneva, is due to meet the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, at Downing Street this evening.

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