French soldier killed in Sarajevo

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BELGRADE - A French peace- keeper was shot dead in Sarajevo yesterday, as the rival forces traded gunfire across the front lines and the United Nations closed the airport following a mortar attack. The airlift was suspended and the airport put on a state of red alert, after a 120mm mortar exploded near the runway, writes Emma Daly.

Jean-Marc Carbonnel, 22, was shot in the head while manning an observation post in the Jewish cemetery, along a volatile front line. The French Foreign Ministry said the soldier 'was killed by a direct hit, which appeared to be fired at him deliberately'.

The UN negotiator, Yasushi Akashi, discussed reopening commercial routes into Sarajevo with the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, in his Pale stronghold.

The Vatican confirmed the Pope would visit Sarajevo on 8 September, despite a refusal by the Bosnian Serbs to guarantee his safety. The Pope said his trip was 'in the hands of God', but his spokesman put the chances of the visit at better than 50-50.

Mr Karadzic said the Bosnian Serb authorities had not agreed to the visit, and warned the Pope not to come. 'The Muslims can shoot him down and abuse the Serbs. That would be terrible for the Catholic world. That would be disastrous,' he said. The Pope plans to hold talks with President Alija Izetbegovic and to say Mass at Sarajevo's Olympic skating stadium. He is also due to meet Bosnia's Catholic bishops and other religious leaders. There are several thousand Catholics in Sarajevo, most of them Bosnian Croats. The Pope's visit to Sarajevo and a subsequent trip to Zagreb is sure to anger many Serbs.