100,000 fleeing Serbs trapped between armies

REFUGEE CRISIS : KRAJINA AFTERMATH

More than 100,000 refugees were trapped in the open yesterday by advancing Croatian and Bosnian forces who shelled some of them and torched the homes of others, according to UN officials.

The human misery created by Croatia's recapture of most of the land held by its rebel Serbs unfolded south of Zagreb, where tens of thousands huddled around a UN base and 50,000 jammed a road south into Serb-held Bosnia, after the triumphant Croatian army agreed to allow safe passage. A statement by the Croatian army supreme commander, General Zvonimir Cervenko, read out on state television, said Serb forces began surrendering at 7pm in exchange for safe passage out to Serb-held Bosnia.

But the deal did not cover the Bosnian Army V Corps, attacking out of the Bihac enclave, and heavy fighting involving all three armies in the border town of Dvor threatened to scupper the agreement.

Refugees south of Topusko, 40 miles south of Zagreb, were shelled by either Croatian or Bosnian troops, said a UN aid spokesman, Kris Janowski. Quoting UN field workers near the shelling, he said an unknown number of people had been killed. Ukrainian peace-keepers had seen Bosnian troops torching homes, said another UN spokesman, Chris Gunness.

Yugoslavia, which has done nothing to save Krajina, yesterday announced a partial mobilisation in response to the fighting in Croatia. The UN believes 150 tanks have been dispatched to the border with Serb-held eastern Slavonia, which Belgrade has long had an interest in annexing. So far, Zagreb has refrained from attacking eastern Slavonia; diplomats fear such a course could spark a wider war between Zagreb and Belgrade.

A Clinton administration official warned that a "deadly and destructive fight" could erupt in the Balkans between a victorious Croatian army and Serb forces.

As the White House expressed growing hope for peace in Bosnia, the official told reporters that Washington was watching for any miscalculation between Croatia and Serbian government troops and armour. "It would be a deadly and destructive fight," said the official.

But the White House continued to express a belief that the Croatian offensive could create a new dynamic toward peace in the region that would lead to a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Bosnia.

Despite the mounting tensions in eastern Slavonia, the last relic of the Krajina Serb statelet perched on the border with Serbia, the immediate focus was the plight of the Serbs in Croatia.

Rida Ettarashany, a UN spokesman in Zagreb, said 30,000 people were trapped in the Topusko area, with 10,000 more near Petrinja and another 15,000 close to Dvor, on the border with Serb-held northern Bosnia. The UN, which has a Danish contingent in Dvor, fears many casualties among civilians caught up in the battle. "There are reports of really heavy fighting in Dvor, with all three armies [Croatian, Bosnian and Krajina Serb] in the town," Mr Ettarashany said.

"At one school inside Dvor there is one unit from the Croatian army which is locked in a fierce battle with Krajina Serb troops inside the school."

In Topusko town, where around 7,000 people are camped out close to a UN base, a UN official spoke of tragic scenes among terrified civilians. "The situation is very bad," James Kanu said. "There is a terrible story of a pregnant woman here at headquarters, crying all day. There are many more people outside, 5,000 or more, who can't move."

Some 80,000 Krajina Serbs have already crossed into Bosnia amid reports that men of military age seeking refuge in Serbia are being corralled by Bosnian Serb troops. The exodus has fuelled fears in Sarajevo of a fresh injection of manpower into the over-stretched Bosnian Serb army, and the government has warned the UN not to be seen to help Krajina Serbs enter Bosnia.

The UN is concerned about possible abuses by the victors, including attacks on refugee convoys, and will despatch teams of monitors to Croatia.

The chairman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Cornelio Sommaruga, said last night that humanitarian aid would begin arriving today to the refugees in northern Bosnia, raising the bizarre prospect of aid flights to the Bosnian Serbs who have shut down the Sarajevo airlift for four months. Larry Hollingworth of the World Food Programme, who has long experience in Bosnia, believes this crisis should not be treated in isolation from others.

"For the first time the Serb side has problems which they themselves in the past have inflicted on others - large, major and urgent problems," he said.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state