UN 'needs more troops'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE UN commander in Bosnia, Lieutenant General Philippe Morillon, is to request extra troops to secure the 'safe havens' for Muslims in Bosnia. Yesterday he also called upon the Serbs to open up Sarajevo, where, he said, conditions had greatly improved. He said the Bosnian Serb commander was ready to open the city, and this could happen today.

Lt-Gen Morillon emerged on to a balcony at the UN headquarters in Kiseljak from a meeting with Bosnian Croat and Muslim commanders, in which he was trying to halt the Croat-Muslim fighting around the southern Bosnian city of Mostar, to say the situation there remained very confused and that he only had enough troops to secure two of the six 'safe havens' designed to protect Muslims from Serbian attack, although the more immediate threat was from the Croats.

In his dealings with the Serbs, he said, General Ratko Mladic, the military commander, 'is now the guy' - not the political leader, Radovan Karadzic.

Meantime, eyewitnesses including a Reuters news agency photographer yesterday reported seeing Bosnian Croat troops hustle about 300 Muslim civilians - men, women and children - down a mountain track to detention in a factory after they had been evicted from their homes in Mostar.

Fighting between Bosnian Muslims and Croats continued in and around Mostar yesterday, wounding a Spanish officer. Lt- Gen Morillon spent yesterday afternoon mediating between the Bosnian Muslim commander, General Hahlovic, and the Bosnian Croat commander, General Petkovic.

The troops from the Spanish battalion that withdrew from Mostar on Saturday remained outside the town. Their commander, Colonel Angel Morales Diaz Otero, said the continuing artillery and mortar fire made it too dangerous to return. One of his officers was badly wounded escorting medical supplies.

Lt-Gen Morillon said he was short of information on Mostar, which is closed to the UN and the press.

In Zagreb, a delegation of European Community diplomats returning from a fact-finding mission to central Bosnia said that systematic excesses had been committed by both Croats and Muslims during fierce fighting in the region.