Maglaj aid blocked

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Bosnian Serb authorities yesterday responded to a United Nations Security Council demand to lift the siege of Maglaj and allow free access for humanitarian aid by refusing permission for a relief convoy to enter the besieged Muslim enclave today, write Robert Block and agencies.

The convoy had been scheduled to leave Zenica in central Bosnia this morning for the short drive north to Maglaj, where at least 16,000 people have been living off meagre rations from US airdrops.

British UN troops in Maglaj marked landing zones for more airdrops last night to ensure accurate deliveries of relief supplies, UN officials said.

The troops were helicoptered into Maglaj on Sunday, the first UN personnel to enter the town in nine months. 'Our teams on the ground in Maglaj will be marking landing zones for the first time tonight,' a senior UN officer said yesterday.

The UN has been repeatedly denied access to the area. The last UN aid convoy reached Maglaj on 25 October last year. UN relief officials said the latest refusal of aid for Maglaj did not come from field commanders but was issued by Bosnian Serb officials at Pale.