Bosnia army finds more proof of Zagreb troops

Click to follow
The Independent Online
'WHAT sort of evidence do you need?' The senior Bosnian army commander in his bunker in east Mostar looked puzzled. 'We have captured identity cards. They give them all HVO (Bosnian Croat) identity cards but we have HV (Croatian army) identity cards with the same names and numbers on - that sort of thing.'

As far as the Bosnian army commander was concerned, whether the enemy were Croats from Croatia or Bosnian Croats was academic. They were all Croats, armed and opposing his forces.

UN sources believe the Croatian army is mainly employed to hold the line while the HVO are pulled back for training. And the HV may also be responsible for training them. The Bosnian Croats are happy to sit tight in mainly defensive positions facing the Muslims. The confrontation line with the Serbs is also fairly quiet, and HV units are believed to be holding part of it south of Mostar while the HVO train and refit. But the evidence found by the Bosnian Mostar IV Corps suggests that some HV are more actively involved in the war.

Further to the east, the Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia have been under shellfire from Serbia proper for months. Serbs from Serbia were involved in attacks on the three enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde.

But it has become clearer that, just as Serbia backs the Bosnian Serbs, Croatia backs the Bosnian Croats and it is almost impossible to disentangle the forces. There is even a 'political directorate of the Defence Ministry of the Croatian republic and of Herceg-Bosna' - the Croat mini-state in Herzegovina. If anybody wanted proof that Croatia is heavily involved in the Bosnian civil war, there it is.

The Croatian army and the Bosnian Croat HVO are controlled by one ministry, which even uses one computer programme - and makes no secret of it. The new commander of the HVO, Lieutenant-General Ante Roso, is a Croat appointee. He is keen to turn the Croat HVO militia into a proper army and he needs HV help to do it.

In recent weeks about 12,000 Croat troops have moved into the Prozor area, just south of the main confrontation line with Muslim central Bosnia, and about 6,000 have left - an overall increase of 6,000. Many of the additional troops are HV, from Croatia proper. Around Tomislavgrad and Mostar, smartly painted armoured vehicles openly bearing Croatian army insignia are in evidence.

The recent accord between Croatia and Serbia could mean the two countries' forces getting more involved in Bosnia. It has certainly meant more collusion between Croats and Serbs.

At the moment most of the fighting is between Croats and Muslims, while the Serbs look on, although in the north the two are allied against the Serbs. Large concentrations of Serbian and Croatian troops, stiffening and reinforcing their Bosnian co-religionists, would close in on central Bosnia, dividing the country between them. But if Croatian and Serbian involvement increases and is synchronised, the Bosnian army despite its martial qualities, will be defeated by superior resources.

ANKARA - Turkey will rebuild the 472-year-old bridge in the Bosnian city of Mostar that was destroyed by gunfire last year, AP reports.

The Foreign Minister, Hikmet Cetin, signed an agreement yesterday with the visiting Bosnian Culture Minister, Enes Drakovic, saying Turkey would try to mobilise an international effort for the task, but if necessary would foot the bill.