Troops armed with honey take out a Big Mac

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THE BRITISH army in Bosnia is pleased to report that Operation Big Mac was successfully concluded at 15.30 hours yesterday, with no loss of life and only slight collateral damage. The immediate objective was achieved at the cost of a few jars of honey. MacKenzie the Bear is now under army guard, awaiting transport to his new secure quarters at Split zoo.

At 10.00 hours three Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, one Warrior repair vehicle, a mobile crane, a four- ton and an eight-ton lorry and two other armoured vehicles rolled up to the restaurant where MacKenzie had been holed up.

Infantry dismounted and secured the area from snipers, before a team from the charity Libearty and Captain David Sherlock of the Cheshire Regiment launched the attack. MacKenzie, named after Lewis MacKenzie, the Canadian general who led United Nations troops in Sarajevo last year, had been made homeless when the restaurant where he was a tourist attraction was destroyed by Croatian shells. His owner, a Muslim, disappeared, abandoning the four-year- old to his fate.

The British army had a whip-round and raised 5,000 German marks for MacKenzie, but the Croats refused to sell. On Monday Victor Watkins and Andrew Venables from Libearty, part of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, arrived in Vitez, with a letter from the commander of British troops in Bosnia, Lieutenant-Colonel Bob Stewart. It confirmed they were on a 'mission to help to release a stranded, caged, starving bear caught up in fighting in Bosnia. Any assistance with the immediate transport and evacuation to Split of this animal is highly appreciated.'

The Croats were persuaded, but MacKenzie was not. He resisted the lure of honey smeared all over a cage constructed by the highly trained men of the Royal Engineers. Five hours later his resolve cracked. Slowly, still suspicious, he made his move. The gate crashed down, and MacKenzie became an allied PoW.