Battle hots up for Sarajevo airport

BALKAN CRISIS: Serb shelling forces Sarajevans to flee to shelters n Bosnian government offensive in Bihac captures key town


in Sarajevo

Sarajevo resounded to the thunder of artillery, tank and mortar fire in the second day of a battle for three Bosnian bunkers on a rocky hill overlooking an important Serb supply road. The airport, which sits on the front line, went on to red alert as fighting broke out south-west of the runway.

One Russian peace-keeper was wounded and a French soldier was injured by shrapnel. At least 11 people in the city were hurt.

Two United Nations flags fluttered in the breeze at either end of the old Jewish cemetery, obscured by clouds of smoke and dust from front- line houses hit by shelling.

Flashes of light on the steep slopes of Debelo Brdo, a hill above the cemetery, and plumes of smoke, marked the impacts of shells on trenches on the edge of no man's land.

UN officials shuttled between government and Bosnian Serb military commanders seeking a cease-fire, but their results were "inconclusive", a spokesman said.

For the second day, the Bosnian Serbs attacked three government-held bunkers in no man's land, but neither side managed to push the other back, the UN said.

The city streets were deserted, as people obeyed government orders to stay at home unless it was vital. The UN withdrew anti-sniping teams from Sniper Alley for safety reasons. Yasushi Akashi, the UN envoy, urged the warring parties "not to squander what chances remain for peaceful dialogue".

But the Bosnian government has lost faith in the international peace plan it signed last year, since the five-nation Contact Group's efforts to cajole the Serbs to sign up have come to naught. In the north-west enclave of Bihac, the government Fifth Corps has pushed south, taking the Serb-held town of Ripac yesterday, according to the UN. The Serbs retaliated by shelling the UN-declared "safe area" of Bihac, killing three people.

The past two days bode ill for the UN mission, which the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, wants to scale down. The peace-keepers have been unable to enforce the heavy-weapons exclusion zone around Sarajevo, to deter attacks on the "safe areas"; or funnel enough aid to the capital and the enclaves. The UN for six weeks has been able to use Sarajevo airport only to supply its own troops. In the past, the airlift accounted for 75 per cent of the aid reaching the city.

The Bosnian ambassador to the UN, Muhammed Sacirbey, complained: "This is another way to take something away from the Bosnian people without giving us the right to defend ourselves."

Sarajevo is still under an arms embargo, although illegal weapons purchases have gone some way to closing the enormous gap with the heavily armed Serbs.

"It's not a bully ganging up on a child any more," said one UN official in Sarajevo. "But that was the situation when the resolutions [permitting Nato air strikes in defence of the safe areas] were passed."

In practice, the peace-keepers have been reluctant to call in air strikes, for fear of escalating the situation, most recently last week, when a Serb shell killed 11 Bosnians.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London