EU envoy escapes Serb shelling

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The recently appointed European envoy in Bosnia, Karl Bildt, had a lucky escape yesterday when three large shells fired by the Bosnian serbs landed between 50 and 100 metres from a helicopter waiting to fly him from central Bosnia back to the Croatian port of Split.

The three 105mm shells, which weigh about 35lbs, hit the government-held town of Konjic yesterday afternoon. The helicopter immediately took off for the relative safety of Split.

Elsewhere, fighting calmed down after intense activity around the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia on Thursday, although UN observers reported 27 shells landing in the enclave early yesterday morning. A 450-strong Dutch battalion had gone to the highest state of alert and taken shelter. The Dutch have been short of provisions and have not been resupplied for some time.

The UN has been finding it increasingly difficult to monitor events, as it has been denied access by both Bosnian and Croatian governments. Yesterday a UN spokesman in Sarajevo, Alexander Ivanko, criticised Bosnia for preventing the reporting of civilian casualties in the city, thus undercutting efforts to publicise its plight. The clampdown started when the Bosnian army (BiH) began what looked like a large-scale attempt to break into and out of the besieged city last month.

In neighbouring Croatia the Croatian army continued to threaten the Serb enclaves in eastern Slavonia and the southern Krajina, but diplomats believed a full-scale assault was unlikely because Croatia is anxious to maintain good relations with the European Union.

However, the UN said they were "still massing", and the situation was "worrying". The Croatian Army's elite Tiger Brigade was exercising near Serb held territory in the UN's Sector North, the area of Serb-held territory nearest to Zagreb

n The US Air Force issued a statement yesterday in support of its pilot, Captain Scott O'Grady, shot down over Bosnia on 2 June. The Independent reported yesterday that Nato sources said he had made several mistakes which led to his being shot down and delayed his rescue. The Air Force did not deny specific aspects of the report, but said that as far as it was concerned he had still performed well.