Bosnian atrocities prompt exodus plan

SARAJEVO (Reuter) - The reported killing of 19 Muslims and Croats in the Serbian nationalist bastion, Prijedor, in north Bosnia, was the latest and worst in a succession of such incidents in the area over the past few weeks, UN officials said yesterday.

They spoke as International Red Cross officials planned to evacuate thousands of Muslim and Croat civilians reportedly facing ethnic cleansing in the town.

'Over the past nine to 10 weeks, not one has passed without a report of two to three people murdered in the Banja Luka region, with other atrocities and acts of intimidation,' Kris Janowski, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Sarajevo.

'The Prijedor incident was the most serious such wave of violence (in this region) in a very long time.'

UN and International Red Cross envoys in north Bosnia have accepted as accurate a report by the Merhamet Muslim charity that 17 Muslims and two Croats were slain by Serbian militants in Prijedor.

Serbian police said that only seven people were killed, and asserted that the murders were not ethnically motivated but committed in the course of robberies.

UN officials who toured Prijedor, a mainly Serbian town, reported grim evidence of the attacks. They said some victims were reported to have been burnt alive in their homes, killed by grenades tossed into the houses or robbed and then summarily shot.

Mr Janowski said that the Prijedor police chief had steered him to neighbourhoods which obviously had been untouched by violence.

'The police chief insulted our intelligence by showing us areas of towns where no problems allegedly existed, where he told us how well Muslims live together with Serbs,' he said.

The police chief had agreed to assign more police to guard minority districts, and there had been no further incidents in the past 24 hours. However, the UNHCR was concerned that police were doing little to curb the attacks.

'We have the impression that the police basically turned their heads away while these things happened, staying out of the targeted neighbourhoods,' Mr Janowski said.

The UNHCR placed little credence in consistent denials by Serbian authorities of persecution of Muslims and Croats, most of whom were expelled as the Serbs overran north Bosnia in 1992, early in the ethnic war.

Mr Janowski said the UNHCR had been transporting an average of 60 Muslims and Croats out of the majority Serb region to safety in neighbouring Croatia every week since September, at their own request.

Tactics of ethnic cleansing have included arbitrary evictions, job dismissals, firebombings of minority-owned businesses and military draft notices to non-Serbs.

In east Bosnia, Bosnian Serb forces appear to be waging a concerted offensive to take the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, a UN-declared 'safe haven', by seizing a key supply road from the west.

Major Rob Annink, spokesman for the UN Protection Force, Unprofor, said yesterday that the Serbs were trying to 'finish off Gorazde with what seems to be a big-scale offensive'. Asked how the UN could tolerate the Serbs seizing an enclave that it had declared a protected zone almost a year ago, Maj Annink said: 'The members of the Security Council should object to these happenings in Gorazde. But Unprofor cannot do anything at this stage.'

UN sources said that the planned deployment of 800 Ukrainian peace-keepers in Gorazde later this month would help to deter a Serbian advance. But in the meantime Unprofor forces were fully occupied holding down ceasefires in central Bosnia.

The reports of ethnic cleansing brought condemnation from Washington, which called for those guilty of war crimes to be brought quickly to justice.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star