Sarajevo denied fuel supplies

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO - The Bosnian Serb army, brushing aside a written promise from its political leader Radovan Karadzic, yesterday refused to release supplies of desperately needed diesel fuel for besieged Sarajevo. The army chief also boycotted a meeting of military leaders for the second time in a week called to discuss how to make the capital a 'safe area'.

A UN spokesman, Peter Kessler, said: 'They're bent on making life as miserable as possible for people in Sarajevo.'

Two UN officials went to the Bosnian Serb barracks yesterday to pick up three tankers with 75 tons of diesel for Sarajevo, which is without gas, running water, electricity and telephones and close to collapse. The fuel was stopped outside Sarajevo 10 days ago by Serbs who confiscated one tanker and held the other three. Earlier, Tony Land, the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sarajevo, said he had successfully negotiated release with Mr Karadzic's office.

Told yesterday morning that there was no agreement to release the diesel, he said: 'I am numb.'

The diesel had been destined for the city's bakery, the two main hospitals, the brewery, which is pumping fresh water from a natural spring for distribution, and for trucks distributing humanitarian aid. It would only have been enough to support this minimal level of activity for 10 days at the most.

In another snub to the Muslim-led Bosnian government a planned meeting of military leaders of the three warring factions to discuss making Sarajevo a 'safe area' was boycotted yesterday by the Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, and the Croat army chief, General Milivoj Petkovic.

Barry Frewer of the UN Protection Force (Unprofor) told reporters: 'General Mladic said he believed more preliminary work must be done on setting up Sarajevo as a safe area', and General Petkovic 'tells us that, given the military situation, he considers it too dangerous to come to Sarajevo'.

The city was reported relatively quiet after fierce shelling which killed seven people.

Bosnia's Muslim-led collective presidency yesterday rejected a plan to divide the country into three ethnically separate republics, President Alija Izetbegovic said. He told reporters that seven out of 10 presidency members voted against the division proposed by Serbs and Croats, AP reports.

Mr Izetbegovic said they endorsed a proposal for Bosnia- Herzegovina to become a federal state without specifying the number of constituent units.