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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent