Security stepped up for Bosnian World Cup clash

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The Independent Online

The battle lines are drawn once more in Sarajevo as Serbs and Bosnians prepare for an showdown, nearly a decade after the end of their bloody, ethnic conflict. Fortunately, this time there is nothing more at stake than qualifying points for football's World Cup.

The battle lines are drawn once more in Sarajevo as Serbs and Bosnians prepare for an showdown, nearly a decade after the end of their bloody, ethnic conflict. Fortunately, this time there is nothing more at stake than qualifying points for football's World Cup.

The Serbia-Montenegro team is coming to town today for the first post-war competitive match between the two countries. Organisers at the Kosevo stadium are taking no chances, though, mounting an unprecedented security operation in a country where bitter ethnic divisions linger between Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into a Serb sector and a Muslim-Croat sector and many Bosnian Serbs do not regard Bosnia as their homeland.

Two years ago, Bosnia and Yugoslavia - since re-formed into Serbia-Montenegro - played a friendly match in Sarajevo, which was followed by violent clashes between Bosnia fans and their Yugoslavian counterparts, mostly Bosnian Serbs.

Hundreds of extra police have been drafted in for today's match and a wire-mesh fence has been erected around the pitch. Police have banned anything that can be used as missiles, including cigarette lighters, umbrellas and even mobile phones.

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