Armies skirmish as world waits for guns to fall silent

BOSNIA CEASEFIRE

EMMA DALY

Zagreb

Battlefields across Bosnia were mostly quiet yesterday, but international observers fear an upsurge in fighting to win last-minute gains before the ceasefire that is due to take effect on Tuesday. Skirmishes continued along two fronts in north-western Bosnia, where Serbs claimed to have retaken Kljuc - a story refuted by one foreigner who visited the town yesterday and said government soldiers appeared at ease - and Croatian artillery weighed in to support an expected Bosnian counter-attack beyond the town of Bosanska Krupa.

"Kljuc is safe and sound," the witness said. But with the arrival in northern Bosnia of a Croatian army artillery unit with at least two batteries of heavy guns, he said he expects to see a serious push against the rebel Serbs within 48 hours. "There is a build-up of forces," said another observer. "Either they expect a [Serb] counter-attack, or they are planning to attack. Something will happen."

As most foreigners have been barred from the area, specific information is hard to come by; but the implication is that the Bosnian and Croatian forces are planning to push north and east from Bosanska Krupa, towards the contested town of Otoka and the Serb-held areas of Prijedor and Sanski Most. The latter two towns are important and emotional targets for many government troops from the area whose friends and families were killed, imprisoned or expelled in the summer of 1992.

"It is rather quiet today," Major Myriam Sochacki, a UN spokeswoman in Sarajevo, said yesterday. "Bosanska Krupa is reported as tense and obviously the fighting is ongoing because we have no freedom of movement south of Ripac [along the road to Kljuc]."

The fall of Kljuc - claimed by the Serbs on Thursday night - would be a serious blow to Bosnian forces seeking control over the main road from Bihac to central Bosnia. It would mark another chapter in the never-ending nightmare for around 300 Muslim refugees re-settled in Kljuc last month only one week after being expelled from their homes by Serb authorities and refused asylum in Croatia. But elsewhere, the front lines were calmer. Although peace-keepers have virtually no access to contested areas, they believe the fighting has died down around Mount Ozren and the Serb-held town of Doboj, scene of a major government offensive over the past few weeks.

The Bosnian army, flushed with its recent successes, may be content now to dig in and hold on to its gains until Tuesday, marshalling its forces against any possible Serb attacks. "Generals and soldiers have four more days to show what they can do on the ground, and then there will be lights out on all Bosnian battlefields," an optimistic editorial in the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
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

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'