Alliance seeks end to Serb siege

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The Independent Online


Sarajevo - Nato warplanes switched in mid-air yesterday from a four- day bombing pause to an open-ended campaign aimed at forcing an end to the Bosnian Serb siege of Sarajevo.

"The air operations were re-initiated after UN and Nato military commanders concluded that the Bosnian Serbs had failed to demonstrate their intent to comply with United Nations demands to remove military threats against Sarajevo," said a Nato statement.

In the Adriatic Sea, on board the US aircraft-carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which sent Hornets with laser-guided bombs in the first wave of yesterday's renewed attacks, Admiral William Fallon said there would be more strikes during the day.

"We are preparing additional strikes right now ... we are working from a list of targets ... worked out in consultations between Nato and the UN," he said.

Targets close to Sarajevo were not the only Serb military assets destroyed in phase two of the operation. Nato jets struck a vital communications tower in the Majevica hills in north-east Bosnia, cutting most phone and television links between the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale and the outside world.

The Bosnian Serb military said in a statement that targets in Lukavica were hit twice. Serbs reported one explosion near Pale, six on nearby Mount Jahorina, six more around the suburb of Hadzici, south-west of Sarajevo, and one at Hresa, just north-east of Sarajevo.

Western military sources said that the targets were similar to those attacked last week, when Nato went after ammunition dumps, anti-aircraft and radar sites, and command-and-control installations.

The initial bombing campaign was put on hold last Friday morning after about 50 hours of attacks by aircraft based on board the Roosevelt and at Nato bases in Italy.

The Bosnian government had kept up pressure on the UN to resume Nato strikes, making clear that its participation in Geneva peace talks planned for Friday was at stake.

The main aim of the attacks was to get the Serbs to pull around 300 heavy weapons out of the 12-mile zone around Sarajevo. Other demands were opening up Sarajevo's airport and land routes into the city, and an end to attacks on "safe areas", including Sarajevo.

"We hope this doesn't have to be a long bombing, that the Bosnian Serbs will truly understand what is happening to them and come around," said Captain Jim Mitchell, a Nato spokesman in Naples.