Serbs threaten Bosnia truce

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The Independent Online
Sarajevo - Most fronts were quiet in Bosnia on Monday, but a United Nations spokesman said that attacks by Serbs and their allies on government positions in the north-west could unravel a three-day truce.

The UN confirmed that there had been some fighting in the Bihac pocket of north-western Bosnia after a nationwide cease-fire took effect at noon on Saturday, but could not endorse government claims that the fighting had been heavy or that Bosnian Serbs were involved.

President Alija Izetbegovic warned on Sunday that he would end the ceasefire unless the Bosnian Serbs stopped their allies attacking around Bihac. Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-led government signed the truce, but the Serbs' allies - Serbs from neighboring Croatia and renegade Muslims - did not.

A UN spokesman, Thant Mynt U, said in Zagreb that the Croatian Serbs and separatist Muslims "could threaten the stability of the ceasefire" and urged Bosnian Serb leaders to use their influence to get the Croatian Serbs to withdraw.

The first phase of the cease-fire lasts until next Saturday and is meant to give time to work out a four-month agreement on cessation of hostilities.

Reporting from the Bihac enclave, Edward Joseph, another UN spokesman, said in a telephone interview that the situation was quiet except for sporadic small-arms fire on the outskirts of Bihac and around Velika Kladusa to the north.

At the UN headquarters in Zagreb, a spokeswoman said the military situation around Bosnia was stable on Sunday and early Monday.

But UN officials also said movement was severely limited in north-west Bosnia.

They expressed new worries about supply shortages for civilians and Bangladeshi peacekeepers.

The Bangladeshis have food for only three or four days. A convoy would try to reach them on Tuesday, officials said.