Muslim tycoon in ceasefire pledge

The renegade Muslim businessman, Fikret Abdic, whose troops are fighting the Bosnian government in the Bihac enclave, yesterday promised to respect a ceasefire negotiated between Sarajevo and the Bosnian Serb leadership.

After talks with the UN commander in Bosnia, Lt-Gen Sir Michael Rose, Mr Abdic agreed to respect the nationwide truce, in danger of unravelling because of the battle in Bihac.

"After some discussion, [Rose] got an agreement in principle from Mr Abdic to respect the ceasefire," said Edward Joseph, a UN official in Bihac. But the general's talks with Atif Dudakovic, commander of the Bosnian forces in Bihac, were less fruitful, Mr Joseph said. General Rose "asked them to apply the terms of the ceasefire throughout the pocket - they're still considering this".

General Rose has been trying for weeks to visit the Bihac pocket, where 170,000 civilians and 1,200 peace-keepers were trapped for weeks without sufficient food or medicine. But until this week the Krajina Serbs who hold Croatian land around Bihac had refused him permission to enter the enclave. General Dudakovic's troops, who defeated a year-long Abdic rebellion in August and then marched on Bosnian Serb positions, lost ground in a three-pronged counter-attack in November by the two Serb armies and Mr Abdic.

The Bosnian Serb lines around the town of Bihac, a UN "safe area", have been quiet since the ceasefire began on Christmas Eve, but fighting has continued near Velika Kladusa, a town retaken by Abdic and Krajina Serb forces.

Mr Joseph said the government's main concern was with Serb rebels attacking across the border from Croatia. "Their position has been clear all along," he said. "It's not primarily a problem with Mr Abdic but with the Krajina Serbs."

Neither force is party to the truce; Sarajevo argues that both are acting in concert with the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale and should therefore respect it. If not, Sarajevo says its forces will be compelled to attack elsewhere, to relieve the pressure. There is some UN sympathy for this position, allied to fears that it might offer the government an excuse to break the ceasefire.

"The root of the problem is [the Krajina Serbs] are crossing the border and attacking Bosnia. We know [General Ratko] Mladic has a lot of influence over them, so some of the blame can be traced back to Pale," said one UN official, referring to the Bosnian Serb commander. Another explained: "The fighting in the north of the [Bihac] pocket is principally a Krajina Serb operation."

Yesterday UN monitors detected 89 detonations in the area of Velika Kladusa, but could not identify their origins. Elsewhere in Bosnia, the ceasefire was generally respected.

In Sarajevo, a 61-year-old woman was wounded by sniper fire on Tuesday; yesterday the warring factions traded gunfire across the front line at the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity near the city centre.

General Rose is also negotiating a cessation of hostilities, due to start on New Year's Day, between Sarajevo and Pale.

Whether Mr Abdic - and, more importantly, the Krajina Serbs - feel the same way remains to be seen.

But the Muslim tycoon is clearly keen to get back to business: during yesterday's meeting he asked the UN to transport 9,000 live chickens to Velika Kladusa so that he could kick-start his agro-industrial empire.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
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: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?