Word on the street: 'I cried with happiness. Today, for the first time, I feel like the war has ended'

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of people braved the rain to pour out into the streets of Sarajevo to celebrate the capture of Radovan Karadzic, but few were more jubilant than Nidzara Ahmetasevic, 34.

"I cried with happiness," she said. "We just believed they would always remain at large and never be punished. Today, for the first time, I really feel like the war has ended."

Wounded during the bombing of Sarajevo when she was still a teenager, she then had to undergo surgery in a hospital lacking anaesthetic, and came around on a bed covered in blood that was not hers. Now she just wants one thing. "He must be taken to the court, so that the stories of all of his victims can be heard, everything he has said and done, and also who helped him do it," she said.

For Edin Ramulic, the happy day of Mr Karadzic's capture came as he was preparing to bury the remains of his father, who died in Keraterm, one of the Serb concentration camps set by Mr Karadzic and listed in his indictment. More than half of the dozen male members of the Ramulic family were tortured and killed in these camps and Edin considers himself lucky, having escaped after four days.

He said: "The arrest came at the perfect time for my family. With that and the burial, now we have closure."

Bakira Hasecic, one of thousands of rape victims in Bosnia, who today heads the group Women Victims of War, said that she did not know whether to cry with happiness or anguish. "Justice has finally reached the most important war criminal in Europe and the world."

Others reacted with incredulity. In northern Bosnia, the organiser of a rock concert interrupted to announce the news, but received only laughter from the audience for a good joke. Only after mobile phones rang and rang did the crowd grasp the enormity of what had happened.

Nura Begovic, who lives right next to the cemetery in Potocari where victims of the Srebrenica massacre are buried, said she had been glued to the television since the news broke on Monday night. She remembers enduring the entire siege of Srebrenica, during which time she lost her brother, mother-in-law and father-in-law. "Whatever happens to Karadzic at the court, it will not be as horrible as the things he did to our people," she said.

Reaction from many Bosnian-Serbs was muted. A local TV station showed a reporter asking people in the northern city of Banja Luka about the arrest. Most said "no comment", one called it "a tragedy".

But in the centre of Belgrade, there were minor skirmishes between police and nationalists, who see Mr Karadzic and Mr Mladic as defenders of the Serb nation.

And in neighbouring Montenegro, where Mr Karadzic was born, people reacted in disgust. "I am very sad that this has happened to Radovan," said Vukosav Karadzic, from his native village of Petnjica. "I am sorry he did not kill himself but allowed himself to be captured."

Views from the Balkan blogosphere

Borisav Condovic on www.politika.co.yu

"A disgrace for the Serbian people. To sell our leader and hero in this way, and the same people attacking and destroying us will set more conditions. What's next? Recognise Kosovo? We've lost so much land – now our honour too."

Do Kraja on www.b92.net

"Now we only have to keep safe all those who have helped this arrest. Thank you for your courage and bravery. You are the Serbian heroes, not Karadzic."

Voja on www.blic.co.yu

"He didn't listen to the advice by the radicals to kill himself before being captured. He would have been a greater hero and a greater Serb had he surrendered himself. This way he actually proved who he was and what he really is. They should sell that other hero as well, so that we can finish this farce."

RASA on www.politika.co.yu

"We are sick incurable nation. We will destroy ourselves."

Franko Fotto on www.b92.net

"Every honest citizen of Serbia welcomes the capture of Karadzic."

Alex on www.blic.co.yu

"Thank you... Finally, this is a great step towards Europe and final justice for the criminals, there's only Mladic left."

Mara Katanic on www.politika.co.yu

"I don't know why, but I am not sure whether this is good news or not, although I know our government must be obedient to its European and American sponsor."