Croats accuse Muslims of killing 2,000: Ceasefire gets off to shaky start as more refugees flee fighting

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THE ANNOUNCED ceasefire in Bosnia got off to a shaky start yesterday after a top Bosnian Croat commander accused Muslims of killing 2,000 Croats, and battles continued in Sarajevo.

Dario Kordic said he expected no let-up in the offensive which overran historic Croat towns in the region this week and called on the United Nations Security Council to condemn what he called 'Muslim atrocities'. He said 2,000 Croats were killed and wounded and 60,000 made homeless after Muslims attacked Travnik, Kakanj and Kraljeva Sutjeska in central Bosnia.

He described the exodus from the region as the biggest in Bosnian Croat history. UN spokesmen in Bosnia say they cannot confirm Croat figues, but admit many Croats were killed and thousands driven from their homes in the Muslim advance.

The announced ceasefire in Bosnia apeared to quieten the guns around the besieged eastern town of Gorazde, where a party of UN observers breached Serb lines and entered the Muslim enclave on Wednesday. But the UN reported mortar and artillery exchanges between Muslims and Serbs around Sarajevo and between Muslims and Croats in Mostar, in south-western Bosnia.

In Belgrade, the Serbian media predicted Novi Travnik would be the next Croat domino to fall to the more numerous Muslims. 'It looks as if there will be a central Croatia without Croats and that the Republic of Croatia has washed its hands of the entire region,' reported the Belgrade daily, Borba.

The Muslims already hold the key 'Bratstvo' arms factory in Novi Travnik and are overrunning surrounding Croat villages, sparking a fresh exodus of refugees, the newspaper said. The Muslim offensive seems to be inspired by a desperate desire to compensate for huge losses to the Serbs by grabbing land off the militarily weaker Croats.

An agreement in Geneva between the presidents of Croatia and Serbia to divide Bosnia into Serb, Croat and Muslim mini- states has placed relations between the two nations on the warmest footing in years, in spite of the unresolved question of the Serb-held Krajina region in Croatia.

Serbia and Croatia are due to present their plans for the partition of Bosnia at a second meeting next week in Geneva with the international peace mediators Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.

Bosnia's Muslim-led government has rejected the plan, but as fighting intensifies between Muslims and Croats, their claim to represent anyone except Bosnia's Muslim population is encountering scepticism.

In spite of the thaw in relations between Zagreb and Belgrade, Serbs in Croatia's Krajina region said they will go ahead this weekend with a provocative referendum on uniting with Bosnian Serbs. The two regions aim to form a new state called Western Serbia, which will later unite with Serbia proper.

In Belgrade, the jailed Serbian opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, sustained life-threatening injuries at the hands of police and must get hospital treatment in if he is to live, opposition officials quoting medical experts said yesterday. The officials quoted a 10-member team of professors from the Belgrade University Medical College, all forensic experts, who examined Mr Draskovic and his wife, Danica, earlier this week.

Meanwhile in Macedonia, an advance party of eight US officers arrived in the capital, Skopje. The US has offered 300 troops to supplement Scandinavian UN peace-keepers patrolling the border of the former Yugoslav republic with Serbia.