Mostar tense after second Croat attack on Muslims

NICHOLAS DOUGHTY and

JONATHAN CLAYTON

Reuter

Mostar - The shooting of two Muslim policemen sent ethnic tension soaring in the divided city of Mostar yesterday and a European Union administrator appealed for calm, saying dialogue, not Nato intervention, was vital.

"It would be a lie if I said I had everything under control but I hope that serious people will understand how dangerous the situation is," said Hans Koschnick, the EU administrator in Mostar, south Bosnia.

"Do not throw oil on the fire. We are trying to calm things down but we are not in a good situation," he said.

He was speaking after a hail of bullets from the Croat sector of the city hit a Muslim police car on Thursday night, seriously wounding two officers inside. One was hit in the stomach, the other in the leg.

Mr Koschnick, who leads an EU administration set up in 1994 after a Croat- Muslim war devastated the historic city, said the solution to Mostar's problems had to be civilian and not imposed by the Nato-led Bosnian peace implementation force (I-For).

"There is no need to involve I-For in the situation in Mostar. People must get together in a democratic way and by talking build understanding for the future," he said.

The EU has been trying to form a joint administration uniting the Muslim and Croat communities, who face each other across a "confrontation line". It also wants to start reconstruction of Mostar, once one of Yugoslavia's top tourist attractions.

But tensions have risen since Bosnian Croat police shot dead a Muslim youth on New Year's Day, an incident which Mr Koschnick described as murder or manslaughter. "I do not consider it to have been an accident," he said.

A series of less serious incidents culminated in Thursday's shooting on the Bulevar, a once-elegant boulevard now in ruins which forms part of the confrontation line.

Police run by the Western European Union (WEU), the EU's defence arm, were investigating the case of the policemen. "Thank God one of them at least is no longer in danger of losing his life," said Mr Koschnick, a former mayor of Bremen.

"The shots clearly came from the west [Croat] side. Now it must be established who fired them," he said, adding that 10 to 12 rounds had peppered the car.

The shooting occurred hours after the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, met his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, in Sarajevo for talks on a Croat-Muslim federation created in 1994. The US-brokered federation, to share rule in Bosnia with a Serb republic, has been riven with divisions, most of all in Mostar.

The EU chief of staff, Sir Martin Garrod, also expressed his concern to the Croat side yesterday over another flashpoint, a hydro-electric dam above the town which almost burst before the new year, sending floods sweeping downstream.

Richard Edgington, a captain in the WEU police, said his force was monitoring repairs on the dam which Bosnian Croats were doing without Muslim approval.

EU-brokered talks on the damaged dam have become bogged down in recriminations between the two communities. Any unilateral work on a dam supposed to be jointly controlled could be provocative in the tinder-dry political atmosphere.

The EU has limited powers in Mostar, once best known for its 16th-century Ottoman Turkish bridge, which collapsed into the Neretva river after a Croatian tank bombardment.

The WEU runs a force of 180 police in the town. But they have no powers of arrest and can only monitor trouble while they tackle the difficult task of creating a united Croat-Muslim police force for the town.

t Sarajevo (Reuter) - Nato said yesterday that its troops fired their first shots in anger of the 17-day-old Bosnia peace mission after a gunman wounded an Italian soldier in Sarajevo on Thursday. "Four to five rounds of 5.66 mm rifle rounds were returned," said an I-For spokesman, Lieutenant- Colonel Mark Rayner, in Sarajevo.

Col Rayner said Nato troops believed they had not killed the gunman, who attacked the Italian sentry guarding a base in the Serb-held suburb of Vogosca, north of the city centre.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines