Serbs capture key suburb

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - Serbian forces have scored a significant strategic and psychological victory over Bosnian troops with the capture of Otes, an important suburb of Sarajevo.

Although the Bosnian government and media have not acknowledged the fall of Otes, 8km (5 miles) west of the centre of Sarajevo, soldiers returning from the front, UN observers and Serbian television indicate most of the town has been occupied by Serbs. The Bosnians fought for five days to hold the suburb, an odd mixture of small farmhouses and ruined apartment buildings.

Otes was the Bosnians' hope for breaking the seven-month-old siege of Sarajevo. It was a potential springboard for them to push through the Serbian-held town of Ilidza to reach other government forces nearby. But with the Bosnians relying on Kalashnikov rifles and home-made grenades to confront Serbian tanks and concentrated artillery fire, the outcome of the battle never seemed in doubt. 'The Bosnians did well to hang on as long as they did, given what they were up against,' said a United Nations military observer who followed the battle.

The fall of Otes meant the Serbs gained more territory in the western suburbs, which control Sarajevo's airport and vital ground routes in and out of the capital. Bosnian soldiers back from the front are exhausted, but refuse to hang their heads. 'We did the best we could but we don't have the weapons we need,' said one young soldier.

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian President, Milan Kucan, is heading for re-election with 66 per cent of votes polled, Reuters reports. The elections for president and parliament are Slovenia's first as an independent nation.

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