Bosnia force fears reprisals

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The Independent Online
International peace-keepers in Bosnia were on guard against a Bosnian Serb terrorist offensive after three attacks yesterday. A US soldier was attacked with a sickle, and grenades were thrown at police monitors and a UN worker.

The international stabilisation force (S-For) moved against war-crimes suspects last week, arresting one and killing another who resisted, provoking protests from the Bosnian Serbs and Russia. On Sunday a bomb went off in Zvornik, which S-For dismissed as an "isolated incident".

"It's still too early to tie these incidents together", said UN international police spokesman Liam McDowell. But the grenade attacks occurred in Banja Luka and Prijedor, in north-west Bosnia where British S-For troops shot war- crimes suspect Simo Drljaca and seized Milan Kovacevic before taking him to face trial in the Hague.

The US soldier was attacked in Kladanj, a Serb-h`eld town on the boundary between the Bosnian Serb "republic" and the Muslim-Croat federation. He was attacked from behind by a man wielding a sickle, a Nato spokeswoman said, and received treatment for a gash in the shoulder. Earlier in the day a hand grenade exploded near the house of UN employee in Prijedor, where Drlaca had been chief of police. On Tuesday another grenade exploded outside an apartment block in nearby Banja Luka, the second city of Serb-held Bosnia, housing officials of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The first sign of Bosnian Serb retaliation against the international presence was on Sunday, night when a bomb damaged OSCE offices and vehicles in Zvornik, on the eastern side of Bosnia. Although the UN maintains yesterday's attacks were also isolated incidents, the possibility remains that a campaign is being orchestrated.