Serbs and Croats 'may be moving towards new war'

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SARAJEVO - United Nations officials said yesterday that Serb sniper fire had intensified in Sarajevo and warned that Croats and Serbs may be mobilising for a new war in Croatia.

An increase in sniping and shelling in the Bosnian capital was seen as a deliberate signal from Bosnian Serb forces that the city remained under their military control, a spokesman for the United Nations Protection Force (Unprofor) said.

Sarajevo radio reported that shelling had subsided yesterday afternoon, but intensive sniper fire wounded two people.

Cedric Thornberry, the civil affairs chief of Unprofor in former Yugoslavia, said UN officials were worried that rebel Serbs and the Croatian army were preparing for an all-out conflict in Croatia. 'There are ominous signs of war,' he said in Belgrade. Both sides were laying new minefields and there were reports of aerial reconnaissance, he said. 'There are clear signs of troop movements on both sides. There are indications of mobilisation,' he added.

The UN Security Council this month renewed the Unprofor mandate in former Yugoslavia for six months. Zagreb had protested that peace-keepers were not doing enough to force rebel Serbs to give back the territory they captured after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. But the separatist Serbs declared a general mobilisation of conscripts now in Yugoslavia and vowed never to abandon their self-styled Krajina republic.

The Bosnian Vice-President, Ejup Ganic, yesterday called for a conference of Balkan nations to resolve the war in Bosnia and other regional flashpoints. 'I believe that only a comprehensive peace that will involve the whole Balkan region will lead to a permanent peace in this area,' he said.

SKOPJE - China has officially recognised the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name, the Republic of Macedonia, AFP reports.

The foreign ministry said the two countries signed a memorandum on mutual recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, adding that Macedonia pledged to recognise Taiwan as part of China. Greece insists the name Macedonia historically refers to part of Greece and refuses diplomatic recognition under that name.