Mladic returns to defend Bosnia stronghold `War criminal' returns to defend Serb town Return of `war criminal' hits peace hopes - World - News - The Independent

Mladic returns to defend Bosnia stronghold `War criminal' returns to defend Serb town Return of `war criminal' hits peace hopes

General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander, was back in action in Banja Luka yesterday to rally his forces after undergoing an operation to remove kidney stones in Belgrade. The operation at a military hospital used lasers to destroy the stones and was apparently successful, according to Western intelligence sources.

The absence of General Mladic, who has been indicted as a war criminal, had led to speculation that his illness was diplomatic, but the sources said this was not the case and they now expected him to organise a vigorous defence of the Serb stronghold in western Bosnia.

In fact, the Muslim-Croat advance appears to have run out of steam and there are indications the alliance is under strain. On Wednesday night a gun battle broke out in Jajce between troops of the regular Croatian army, who had advanced from the west, and the Bosnian government VII Corps, which had come from the south. Seven people were reported killed.

In a little over a week the Bosnian-Croat alliance has reduced the amount of Bosnian territory controlled by the Serbs from 70 per cent to less than 50 per cent. But intelligence sources said they had now slowed their advance at the end of lengthened and strained lines of communication.

The Croats made one further gain on Wednesday night, capturing the town of Bosanski Novi. Farther south, the Bosnian government V Corps has advanced towards Prijedor, but neither this town nor Sanski Most is believed to have fallen, in spite of Bosnian government claims to have seized them.

To the south of V Corps, there have been two Croatian thrusts, by a force of about 10,000 Croatian regulars and 10,000 Bosnian Croat militia - the HVO. The professional soldiers from Croatia have been used as attack infantry with the HVO providing additional fire support and guarding lines of communication.

The Muslim and Croat forces in the area outnumber the Serbs by about two to one: 40,000 Muslims and Croats against 20,000 Serbs. The Serbs come from I Krajina Corps, which has withdrawn largely intact after the fall of the Krajina, and II Corps, based in Banja Luka. The Serbs can be expected to make a determined defence of the town. Some local officials are opposed to the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, leading to hopes that they may be more amenable to a negotiated peace, but General Mladic's presence in the city may confound those hopes.

Intelligence sources are playing down suggestions that the Yugoslav National Army from Serbia might come to the aid of the Bosnian Serbs if Banja Luka was seriously threatened. Although the Yugoslav army is the most formidable force in the region it has only about 20,000 troops ready to intervene in Bosnia immediately and they would have to pass through a narrow corridor to reach western Bosnia. This would take time and open them to artillery attack in the corridor.

Following the recent rapid Muslim and Croat advance, it now appears that both sides are likely to dig in.

t Banja Luka - A Reuter television crew filmed the bodies of 18 Serbs, including women and children, said by Serb authorities to have been shot by Croat troops earlier this week in their cars as they tried to flee from Bosanski Novi, on the Bosnian-Croatian border, Reuter reports. The crew saw several other bullet-riddled bodies and filmed vehicles peppered with bullet holes.

Serb officials said yesterday that 127,000 people had been made refugees, and appealed to the outside world for 4,000 tons of food, 1,000 blankets and other supplies, including building materials to repair the thousands of damaged, empty homes in northern Bosnia to house refugees.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
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

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week