UN party 'harassed' and barred from camp

Click to follow
SARAJEVO - A United Nations delegation investigating atrocities in the former Yugoslavia was refused entry into a Serbian-run camp, and its leader said his team had been harassed.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the former Polish prime minister who leads the UN team, said he did not know why his delegation was denied access on Saturday to the Manjaca camp near the Bosnian city of Banja Luka.

Mr Mazowiecki said: 'We heard rumours the area around the (Manjaca) camp has been mined but I don't really know. But the people who tried to harass us did themselves a disservice because they showed us their true face.'

Members of his team visited prisons in Sarajevo, and Mr Mazowiecki said neither he nor any of his colleagues had been denied access by the Bosnian government.

The arrival of Mr Mazowiecki in Sarajevo was delayed early yesterday as fighting continued and a mortar fell through the roof of the main building of the airport.

Fighting in Bosnia was heaviest during the weekend. In a blaze of mortar, grenade and machine-gun fire, government troops launched a last-ditch offensive to break the Serbian siege of Sarajevo. Casualties were heavy in shelling in the centre and on the west side of the city, where government forces were trying to reach the airport on Sunday.

UN peacekeepers closed the airport to aid flights after shells hit the runway. It was reopened yesterday and relief flights resumed.

Yusuf Khalef, a UN spokesman, yesterday said that a barracks occupied by Egyptian UN soldiers came under intense fire. Six mortar rounds landed in the camp on Sunday night, but no injuries were reported. Shells also landed within 400 yards of the UN headquarters.

Dr Arif Smajkic, head of the Bosnian Ministry of Health, said on Sunday that 46 people were killed and 303 wounded in the previous 24 hours of fighting in Bosnia, including 22 dead and 100 wounded in Sarajevo.

He added that the city's main hospital had no water or electricity. Many seriously wounded casualties were being brought in. 'It is very critical at this moment,' he said. 'We need water for operations and we don't have any.'

Alija Izetbegovic, the republic's Muslim president, said that his forces had made headway on the west side, but government military officials gave mixed signals.

Mr Izetbegovic said that even if the new offensive failed, his forces would fight on. 'Sarajevo shall survive,' he said. 'We shall fight many, many months more.'

Throughout the weekend, explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire could be heard throughout Sarajevo. Shells landed near the main Kosevo hospital in the city centre, around government offices and on the west side. A mortar crashed into the second floor of a student hostel in the old city, killing at least two people and wounding several others.

The offensive appeared to be a last-ditch attempt by Bosnian defenders to gain a military advantage before the peace conference on Yugoslavia begins in London tomorrow.

Mr Izetbegovic planned to attend the peace conference, organised by the European Community and the UN to find a solution to conflicts in Bosnia and other former Yugoslav republics. At previous negotiations, his government has refused to talk to representatives of Bosnia's Serbs.

Mr Izetbegovic said he would propose restructuring the Bosnian government to ensure representation of Croats, Muslims and Serbs and establishing an international human rights commission to supervise the government.

Leading article, page 16

Lawrence Freedman, page 17

(Photograph omitted)