Sarajevo fighters ignore truce

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - Fierce fighting erupted in the centre of Sarajevo late last night as Muslim-led government forces battled Serbs near the besieged Bosnian capital's destroyed parliament tower.

Heavy machine-gun, small arms, mortar and artillery fire rocked the nearby Holiday Inn, where most of the foreign press corps covering Bosnia's 21-month civil war are based. The fighting appeared to be centred on the Vrbana bridge about 500 yards away.

Government troops have made some gains against Serbian soldiers near the parliament tower in recent weeks and a government offensive to take more land in the area had been rumoured for several days. The rival forces are well entrenched on either side of a desolate urban no man's land where dangling trolley-bus wires and rotting bodies give evidence of earlier battles. The fighting, as intense as any in the city centre for months, raged for 20 minutes and tailed off, but sporadic mortar and machine-gun fire continued.

Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs and Croats agreed to a Christmas ceasefire which was supposed to extend until 15 January. It was largely ignored in the capital and on several other battlefronts across Bosnia. Muslim- led forces were reported to have shelled Croats in central Bosnia and combatants blamed each other for breaking the truce. The mostly Muslim Bosnian army fired artillery rounds at Croat positions in the Vitez area in central Bosnia and shelled Croat-held Novi Travnik, Croatian radio reported.

Bosnian Croats reported that 30 of their soldiers and civilians had been killed in central Bosnia and claimed the Bosnian army was regrouping in preparation for fresh attacks. Hina news agency said yesterday that Muslims mounted artillery and infantry attacks on the village of Busovaca, south of the central Bosnian town of Zenica.

BELGRADE - One or two seats were in the balance yesterday as 20,000 Serbians were called to vote again in 45 polling stations where last week's poll results were cancelled due to irregularities, AFP reports.

The re-run could see one or two seats change hands in the new hung parliament. Last week's election gave President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party 123 seats, just short of an overall majority.

Letter, page 11

(Photograph omitted)

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