No peace yet for battered Sarajevo

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SARAJEVO (Reuter) - Warring factions paid scant attention yesterday to an apparent breakthrough in Yugoslav peace talks in London, exchanging mortar and machine-gun fire in a city filled with bitterness and anger.

While world leaders ending a two-day peace conference in London hailed an agreement by Serbian forces to hand over heavy weapons to United Nations control within a week, people in Sarajevo scurried for cover from the latest bombardments. Marrack Goulding, UN Under Secretary-General for peace-keeping operations, was due to leave London today for Bosnia to begin locating Serbian weapons.

The presidency building in Sarajevo was shaken by 15 mortar explosions in an hour. The railway station, already wrecked after nearly five months of siege by Serbian forces, blazed all night after being shelled.

The narrow streets of the old city were strewn with glass and rubble from mortar explosions that persisted through the night, killing at least five people including two children.

Columns of black smoke rose from suburbs to north and south. Sarajevo radio reported four dead and 34 wounded overnight in the Muslim suburb of Dobrinja.

In London the nine-nation Western European Union pledged nearly 5,000 troops and related equipment to UN operations in the former Yugoslavia, but stopped short of ordering any immediate new measures.

Defence and foreign ministers of the WEU, in a statement issued after a two-hour meeting, also endorsed Thursday's decisions by the international conference on Yugoslavia to expand UN protection of aid convoys in Bosnia.

The Italian Foreign Minister, Emilio Colombo, told reporters WEU contingency studies on the logistics of expanded protection of aid convoys to deliver food to all parts of Bosnia would be made available to the UN. He said the contributions offered so far by individual WEU nations were: Britain, up to 1,800 troops; France, 1,100; Italy, 1,200; Spain, up to 400; Belgium, 100 and the Netherlands, up to 120. Germany would contribute logistics, medical and transport assistance; several other countries would provide trucks, helicopters, armoured vehicles and other types of aid.

But Mr Colombo made it clear this was not a separate WEU force, rather individual offers by WEU states to the United Nations.

'All this is going to the United Nations and it is there that a decision will be taken as to how and when these contributions will be made use of,' he said.