Fierce fighting strains peace flares up again

Bosnia ceasefire: Serb army shells Muslims in north-west as leaders argue over defeats defeat

Fierce fighting between Bosnian government troops and Serb forces flared again in northwest Bosnia on Sunday, both sides reported, putting further strain on a four-day-old ceasefire.

The government's elite 5th Corps said that Serbs shelled their defence lines near Sanski Most "with all available weapons" and Belgrade's Tanjug news agency said that "since early this morning fierce fighting has been in progress on the Sanski battlefront". In Sarajevo the UN spokesman Lt Col Chris Vernon said : "There is still military action, no doubt about it, but it is stable in terms of land movement." As towns fought over were important economically, the fighting was "not just about land gains."

Earlier yesterday, the front lines in northwest Bosnia had appeared quieter after government forces said they had halted an offensive that began last month and gained them thousands of square miles of territory. Victories by the Bosnian army in Sanski Most and Mrkonjic Grad have sown panic among Bosnian Serb leaders, who took the unusual step of inviting UN observers to inspect the front lines. Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, reopened old wounds with his military commanders by blaming unnamed generals for the defeats.

UN monitors headed for Mrkonjic Grad last night; their arrival should improve the peace-keepers' ability to monitor the cease-fire and report breaches. Hostility between the warring armies is fiercest in north- west Bosnia, where Serbs earlier killed or expelled thousands of Muslims.

The UN, if it is allowed access on the government side, will want to investigate reports of recent atrocities and older mass graves on territory lost by the Serbs. Bosnian troops took journalists to see 14 bodies, dead for several weeks, at two sites near Sanski Most. They suggested they were Muslims used as slave labour and shot by retreating Serb forces.

Emir Karic, a Sanski Most official, said about 300 men were unaccounted for and feared dead: "The Serbs briefly withdrew from Sanski Most over a month ago but after two days came back to harass the Muslims. They expelled about 2,000 women and children to Zenica and Travnik. They kept about 1,000 men." He added that half of those had been forced to withdraw with the Serbs. "We found 200 alive here and 300 are feared killed. We have already found and identified 100 bodies in various locations."

The ground between Prijedor - still in Serb hands - Sanski Most and Mrkonjic Grad, which once formed a defensive line around the Serb stronghold of Banja Luka, is infamous for atrocities committed against Muslims in 1992.

n Mons, Belgium (Reuter) - Russia and Nato got down to the details yesterday of planning a 60,000-strong force to implement an eventual Bosnia peace settlement. Russia has offered up to 20,000 troops but has insisted that they will not come under direct Nato control.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us