60 Yugoslav army tanks 'go into Bosnia'

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Agencies) - A force of up to 60 Yugoslav Army tanks crossed into Bosnia from Serbia yesterday, a Bosnian presidential adviser, Hajrudin Somun, said.

They headed for the north Bosnian town of Brcko, where Serbian rebels are being besieged by Muslim forces, he said. 'Our commander told me there were one or two tank units and each tank unit usually has about 30 tanks.'

Yugoslav government officials in Belgrade could not be immediately reached to comment on the Bosnian claim, but it was denied by the Yugoslav Army general staff.

In Sarajevo, about 30 heavy shells rocked the city centre yesterday morning, several hours after a two-hour running gun battle on the north side of the central district. About 50 shells fell on the Dobrinja suburb near the airport, police said. They reported about 20 people wounded and some dead, but had no exact figures.

In Zadar, on the Adriatic coast, authorities yesterday told refugees from several villages near the frontline in the hinterland that they could return to their homes, as Serbian forces had not occupied the area.

The United Nations protection force is attempting to demilitarise the Zadar region, but Croats are accusing Serbs of holding up their retreat.

A relief convoy of 21 trucks sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was reported to have left the Croatian port of Split early yesterday, but it was unclear whether it could make it through the front line at the town of Kiseljak, north-west of Sarajevo. For weeks, Western officials have been trying to open up a land corridor to Sarajevo to supplement the relief flights, and the UNHCR convoy could be an important test. UN officials were also reported to be considering an airdrop of supplies to another besieged Bosnian town, Gorazde, south-east of Sarajevo.

Once populated by Muslims and Serbs and now home to thousands of Muslim refugees from surrounding towns, Gorazde has been shelled regularly by Serbian forces. About 70,000 people are trapped in the city near the Serbian border, about 30 miles from Sarajevo.