Morillon forced to abandon relief attempt

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO - The United Nations force commander in Bosnia, General Phillipe Morillon, yesterday abandoned his attempt to lead 150 UN troops into the besieged east Bosnian town of Srebrenica, after being stopped by a group of women, writes Marcus Tanner.

A mob of more than 300 Serb women blocked the French general's advance convoy between the Serbian-held town of Zvornik and Srebrenica, swarming over the two armoured personnel carriers, ripping off aerials and fittings.

A Bosnian Serb commander left Zvornik in the afternoon to 'rescue' General Morillon - although the demonstration was almost certainly organised by the Bosnian Serb authorities.

A UN spokesperson in Sarajevo said the failure of General Morillon's mission was 'very sad' - a sentiment no doubt shared by the 60,000 Muslims trapped in Srebrenica and bombed by advancing forces every day.

A separate UN convoy from Belgrade and partly loaded with food entered Srebrenica. Local authorities allowed 1,400 sick and wounded civilians to clamber aboard and leave the town. Many were displaced persons, victims of earlier bouts of Serbian 'ethnic cleansing'.

The Serbs have no objection to the UN removing civilians from the region: in effect, the organisation is carrying out the 'ethnic cleansing' of eastern Bosnia for them. What the Serbs do not accept is the permanent stationing of UN peace-keepers in a town they wish to seize.

For General Morillon the hold-up by Serb women was humiliating. Three weeks ago he hoisted the UN flag over Srebrenica and promised terrified inhabitants he would save them from the Serbian onslaught. Last night he retreated to Tuzla to rethink.

In Sarajevo a serious row loomed between the UN and Bosnian Serbs after the Serbs discovered 48 boxes of machine gun ammunition hidden in an aid convoy going from Sarajevo to the nearby Muslim-held village of Butmir.

The discovery infuriated the Serbs, who have often accused the UN of smuggling weapons to the lightly- armed Muslim-led Bosnian army. They may now use the find to stop other UN aid convoys.

In The Hague yesterday, the World Court granted Bosnian Muslims emergency protection from what the Muslims claim is Serbian genocide aimed at exterminating them and their culture.

THE GERMAN constitutional court yesterday said crews could be used on Nato's Awac aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia which starts on Monday, writes Steve Crawshaw. This will be the first time German forces are used outside their borders since the Second World War. The judgment came after the Bonn government had, in effect, taken itself to court when protracted arguments threatened to split the coalition.

Relief for Bonn, page 12

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