Shells break Bosnia ceasefire: Muslims fend off Serbs in Maglaj and fight Croats in Mostar

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PATCHY ceasefires agreed between Bosnia's three warring armies appeared to be collapsing yesterday, as Serbs pressed on with an offensive against the Muslim-held town of Maglaj, and Muslims battled Croats for control of the southern city of Mostar.

United Nations observers in Maglaj said Serbs were raining shells on the town at a rate of one every 10 minutes, endangering the lives of 30,000 mostly Muslim residents, many of whom are refugees. The shelling has killed 18 people in the past 10 days and wounded another 65.

'The whole world should know the Serbs are continuing to try and capture the northern area of Bosnia,' said Christian Mulders, a European Community monitor in Maglaj. Constant bombardment has cut off the town's electricity supplies for most of the day and local authorities say food supplies are down to an absolute minimum.

The Serbs claim the Muslims started the fight. A more likely explanation is that the Serbs are trying to widen their corridor across northern Bosnia, which links Bosnian Serb strongholds with Serbia proper. Muslim forces have been weakened by the latest clashes with their former Croatian allies, and which have led to the Croats closing off supplies of weapons and food.

In southern Bosnia, Croatian Radio reported renewed battles in Mostar between Muslim and Croat forces in the centre of the city. They claimed Muslim forces attacked Bosnian Croat army barracks located in the former Yugoslav army base.

Factional fighting in Mostar, at first between Serbs and Croats and now between Croats and Muslims, has flattened much of what used to be one of Yugoslavia's most picturesque tourist resorts. Among the familiar landmarks which have gone are several of the mosques dating from Turkish times, the old Serbian Orthodox cathedral and both hotels.