Ten a day killed in city of snipers: Steve Crawshaw finds the terrible reality of Bosnia at Sarajevo's morgue and in the Lion cemetery

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The Independent Online
WHAT HAD until Wednesday evening been a young girl - six years old, apparently, but nobody knew her name - lay on the floor. She had probably been quite pretty. She was wearing a pink T-shirt and cheerful flowery leggings, such as you can buy at Benetton. Her waxen expression made her look like a large doll, with her arms partly folded across her chest. But half of her head was missing. Her brains had spilt on to the floor of the morgue.

The girl was one of the latest victims of the three-month war on the people of Sarajevo. She was killed at about the time that Radovan Karadzic, self-proclaimed leader of the Bosnian Serbs, was talking in London about his yearning for peace. About 10 civilians are killed every day as Serbs, Croats and Muslims fight for slices of the city. It is often impossible to determine which side fired the lethal bullet.

There was no way even of telling if the girl was Serb, Muslim, or Croat - many people in Sarajevo are, in any case, ethnically mixed. But it was certain that she was the victim of Mr Karadzic's men, who fire, day and night, from the green hills surrounding the city.

As I write, they are firing on people outside my hotel window. The curtains are drawn and I am out of the line of fire, but through a small gap I can sometimes see the flash where a sniper's high-velocity bullet hits the road. Occasionally you hear the whizz of the bullet. Sometimes there are the louder explosions of mortar shells or grenades, and smoke rises.

Wednesday night was relatively quiet at the morgue - only three other people, all hideously mutilated, lay beside the girl. Yesterday morning, a mortar shell fell on Sarajevo's central market - almost empty of produce, but full of people - and killed two more. There were reports of two other deaths in a suburb.

In the eastern Bosnian town of Gorazde, too, the Serbian siege was more brutal than ever. The Serbs have refused the United Nations humanitarian organisation, UNHCR, access. Bosnian reports spoke of a city ablaze.

Bosnians claimed that the hospital was destroyed, that there were no surgeons left, and that nobody could leave their homes because of the non-stop Serbian shelling in the past three days. The stranglehold on Gorazde means that independent confirmation of those reports is impossible.

The reality of life in today's Bosnia can be observed at the Lion cemetery, where there used to be a few old graves: it was used as a public park. Now there are about 2,000 fresh mounds, stretching almost as far as the eye can see. Soon, the little girl with half her head missing will, no doubt, also be buried near by.

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