UN resolve tested by convoy killings: 11 killed at football match as Serbs shell Sarajevo - Security Council debates sending extra troops to guard 'safe areas'

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The Independent Online
TWO DANISH drivers working for the United Nations were killed by artillery fire yesterday as they delivered humanitarian aid to a Muslim town in northern Bosnia. Four other Danes were wounded and a local interpreter was missing and presumed dead, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In Sarajevo, 11 people were killed and about 80 wounded, 25 seriously, when two mortar bombs landed on a football pitch during a match.

'It was horrible. Everything was covered with blood,' said Adnan Suljagic, one of the footballers.

The attack, the worst on civilians since the 'bread queue massacre' a year ago when 16 people were killed, happened in the capital's south-western Dobrinja suburb, with two Serbian mortar bombs exploding in the middle of the game on a makeshift pitch at about 10.30am, according to Sarajevo radio.

Three children were among those killed as Muslims took the day off for the Barjam holiday marking the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. 'These two mortars hit the square. I knew right away there were going to be a lot of wounded,' Sead Bajic, 20, said from his bed in Dobrinja hospital, where he was treated for leg wounds.

He said about 150 people were watching the game, between 10 five- man teams of Bosnian government soldiers, adding that someone in Dobrinja probably informed Serbian gunners it was taking place.

The Serbs, who have been besieging Sarajevo for 14 months, also redoubled their assault on the Muslim- held eastern town of Gorazde, where about 70,000 residents and refugees are holed up.

Muslim commanders said that the disarming, under UN auspices, of Bosnian government forces in the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa had enabled the Serbs to concentrate firepower on Gorazde.

The attack on the Danish convoy, near a tunnel south of the town of Maglaj, took place three days after gunmen shot three Italian civilians on a private relief mission in central Bosnia. Their killers were wearing Bosnian government army uniforms, and the Italian Foreign Ministry told the Bosnian representative in Rome it wanted all possible light shed on 'this brutal and vile episode'. Italian newspapers expressed outrage, saying Europe had a duty to protect volunteers.

The Italians were Sergio Lana, 21, a volunteer with the Catholic charity Caritas, Fabio Moreni, 40, the driver; and Guido Puletti, 40, a freelance journalist from Brescia. Last night Moreni and Puletti's bodies were identified by aid workers. Two others, Agostino Zanotti, 34, and Cristiano Penocchio, 26, survived the ambush, near Novi Travnik, not far from the scene of recent Muslim-Croat clashes. 'We were attacked by a band of irregulars who robbed us of everything,' Mr Zanotti told Italian radio. 'We were travelling in a truck and car and were about to reach Novi Travnik. We were stopped by soldiers who pointed their weapons at us.'

He said the soldiers had ordered them out of the vehicles, making them walk on foot. 'Two soldiers then took us to an isolated spot, stole everything we had left and started shooting. First they shot towards the ground. Then they began a kind of manhunt. I escaped to a stream and stayed there for two hours waiting for nightfall,' said Mr Zanotti.

The Maglaj attack raises the question of whether the West will use military force to protect UN humanitarian operations. Under the latest Western initiative, the US has pledged to defend UN forces if they are attacked and request assistance while patrolling Muslim 'safe areas'. A spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Lyndall Sachs, said: 'These are the worst fatalities we have suffered, but we are not going to call off the relief operation. Every day our staff are taking these risks, and 2 million people in Bosnia of all ethnic groups depend on us.'

The UN Security Council discussed the killings yesterday and considered a draft resolution that would reinforce UN troops in the six 'safe areas'.

The resolution approves the plan proposed by the US, Russia, Britain, France and Spain on 22 May that calls for up to 15,000 extra troops to guard the 'safe areas' and authorises the use of US air power to protect those troops.

The resolution has been delayed by opposition from the non-aligned members, led by Venezuela, and from the UN secretariat. They are concerned that it legitimises Serbian 'ethnic cleansing'.

(Photograph omitted)

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