Grief and rage over playground massacre

Bosnia crisis: Serbs step up shelling after slaughter of children 8 Mediator's gaffe 8 Kohl aims to send jets to aid Anglo-French force
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The Independent Online
At least one person was killed and six wounded yesterday, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, when rebel Serbs fired three shells into Sarajevo's Old Town, a day after killing 10 people, six of them children through sniping and shelling.

Cars raced into the grounds of Kosevo hospital bringing the victims for treatment.

One man was pulled from the boot of a Golf and taken in for treatment; another Golf drove up with a body in the back. "He's dead, but is there anyone but us to say so?" asked the driver. With the collapse of the Nato heavy-weapons exclusion zone around the city, the Serbs have become bolder, shelling the Old Town rather than the more anonymous suburbs of the New Town. They have also targeted the UN, prompting French peace- keepers on Mount Igman to respond twice with mortar smoke bombs. These do little damage but warn the Serb gunners that they have been identified, in the vain hope of stopping their fire.

Haris Silajdzic, the Prime Minister, condemned the UN as a club for "the strong and the rich", arguing that the big powers had failed to protect Bosnia's civilians, while imposing an arms embargo that denied the country a right to self-defence.

It is a theme echoed across Sarajevo, most recently by Sabri Zimic, father of nine-year-old Sidbela. She was killed along with three playmates on Sunday when a Serb shell hit their small playground.

"The four girls and the 17,000 other children who have died in Bosnia send their regards to Major, Boutros-Ghali and Yeltsin, who is killing children in Chechnya," he said. "May God punish them."

Sidbela died in her mother's arms outside her home. Her neighbours, Amina Pajevic, 11, Ljiljana Janjic, 12, and Maja Skoric, 5, were also killed, as were three adults.

"We were playing outside together when my mother called me to say Aunt Tarifa had come for my English lesson," said Minela, Sidbela's 11-year- old sister. "I went upstairs and had read one word when the shell exploded. Mama ran downstairs and found her in the corner."

The girl stood looking at the pools of blood in the small courtyard, still in shock.

"We played to forget about the war," said Inesa Olovcic, 11, whose mother refused to let her out to play on the fateful evening. "All my friends went to foreign countries, so there were only five or six of us left. Now that we have lost these four we are only three."

Inesa said the group spent a lot of time in the basement - "cold and dark". What they loved was tennis. Ljiljana was a Serb. A neighbour said two of her uncles are members of the rebel force which killed her.

Mr Zimic bought his children Barbie dolls and converted the laundry room to a playroom. "But it didn't help," he said. "She always said: "Daddy, please let me live my life, I can't stay at home all the time'." His daughter was to be buried at dusk to minimise the risk to mourners.

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