Sarajevo erupts after Carrington failure

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The Independent Online
THE FIERCEST fighting for many days erupted in the besieged city of Sarajevo last night, after Lord Carrington, the European Community mediator, failed to persuade the warring sides to resume peace talks.

After meetings with Serbian, Croatian and Muslim leaders, Lord Carrington said: 'I don't think we have made any progress today at all . . . I think this has been a rather dispiriting afternoon.'

Late last night heavy artillery rounds crashed into the western suburb of Dobrinja and red tracer fire arched across the sky from Serbian positions in the hills surrounding the Bosnian capital. Heavy machine-gun fire, mortars and loud bursts of anti-aircraft fire echoed around the city. The firing came closer to the centre of town shortly after midnight with heavy firing close to the Holiday Inn, where United Nations forces are lodged.

Earlier, the first British aircraft bringing relief aid was seen descending sharply through clouds over the Bosnian hills and flying over Sarajevo at roof-top level before touching down at the airport. The C-130 Hercules, crewed by veterans of the Falklands and Gulf wars and Ethiopian famine relief missions, brought 12 tons of medical aid and food parcels for the capital's 300,000 increasingly desperate inhabitants.

The relief effort to Sarajevo had been gaining momentum, just in time. By early evening, UN officials reported, 10 aircraft from the United States, Britain, Norway, Sweden, France and Italy had unloaded food and medicine.

At the city's airport, more than 1,000 UN peace-keepers from France and Canada are deployed. A further 600 UN peace-keepers from France are expected in Sarajevo within days. General Lewis MacKenzie, commander of UN forces, said the peace- keepers would fire at any sniper opening up on supply convoys.

Only the slenderest of hopes attended the brief stopover in Sarajevo by Lord Carrington, who chairs the all-but-defunct EC conference on Yugoslavia.

Despite a cordial welcome for Lord Carrington from Alija Izetbegovic, Bosnia's Muslim President, there was no sign of a political breakthrough. Lord Carrington had hoped that all three leaders in Bosnia - Serb, Croat and Muslim - were ready to talk peace. But Muslim leaders in Sarajevo announced in advance that they rejected the EC plan to divide the republic into three ethnic-based regions.

Mr Izetbegovic hammered another nail in the coffin, ruling out talks with the militant leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, whom he has dismissed as a terrorist. Before meeting Lord Carrington, Mr Izetbegovic announced stiff conditions for peace talks: Serbian artillery surrounding Sarajevo must be put under international control, and a ceasefire respected for at least seven days. Lord Carrington later met Bosnian Serb leaders near the airport. Mr Karadzic ruled out placing his formidable armoury under international supervision, effectively sealing the doom of Lord Carrington's mission.

Fierce clashes raged in other regions. Bosnian radio reported heavy shelling by Serbian forces in the mostly Muslim town of Bihac, north-west Bosnia, and a fierce struggle in Gorazde, eastern Bosnia, where 70,000 Muslims have fought off encircling Serbs for more than two months.

A British photographer, Kevin Weaver, apparently wounded by Serbian gunmen, was evacuated from Sarajevo in the RAF Hercules.

Heat on Milosevic, page 8