Muslims threatened with air strikes

THE United Nations force commander in Bosnia yesterday warned the Bosnian Muslims that they, too, must respect the heavy weapons exclusion zone around Sarajevo or face the threat of punitive air strikes. Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose issued his warning in response to a complaint from the Bosnian Serbs that government forces were shelling Serbian areas inside the zone.

The UN reported more than 400 artillery rounds near Visoko, Breza and Ilijas, north of Sarajevo, but an official said fighting subsided after the General's warning.

Claire Grimes, a UN spokeswoman in Sarajevo, said that General Rose had written to the Bosnian Serb commander in the region and the Bosnian Vice-President, Ejup Ganic, to say that 'serious breaches of the total exclusion zone' had been reported.

The UN, he said, 'would use all available means to deter these attacks', which, Ms Grimes said, could include air strikes. The UN warning was seen less as a serious threat to bomb the Muslims than as a signal to the Bosnian Serbs that the UN was trying to maintain its impartiality.

Another spokesman, Major Rob Annink, said UN troops deployed in the area had seen a tank in the zone but did not know which side it belonged to.

The Serbs were also told to remove three heavy weapons from the exclusion zone around the Muslim enclave of Gorazde. Major Annink said peace-keepers had counted 20 detonations, apparently from shells fired by the renegade weapons, but added that they did not pose a threat to the town of Gorazde, about 10 miles away.

North of Sarajevo, the Bosnian army is apparently trying to take land from the Serbs along the road from Sarajevo to Tuzla via Olovo, and it has had some success in winning ground south of Vares from the Serbs. The UN, said one official, 'is not in the business of stopping them fighting per se', but is concerned to keep out of the zone weapons that could threaten Sarajevo. It is also trying to prop up a two-month old agreement to suspend offensive actions.

Yasushi Akashi, the senior UN official in the former Yugoslavia, appealed to both sides 'at this critical juncture . . . to show utmost military restraint'. But his plea is likely to fall on deaf ears in Sarajevo, which is encouraged by the apparent breach between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs.

Buoyed by its military success against Muslim rebels in Bihac and by the Bosnian Serbs' dispute with Serbia, the Bosnian government army is in no mood to hold its fire. The Bosnian army appears to be advancing on Velika Kladusa, the heart of the rebellious fiefdom ruled by Fikret Abdic. The wealthy businessman broke with the Sarajevo government last year and signed a deal with the Bosnian Serbs.

Despite having lost his best commander and several towns to the advancing Bosnian army, Mr Abdic yesterday insisted he was 'unbeatable' and rejected an amnesty offered by the Bosnian government. 'It is impossible to part me from my people,' he said in a telephone interview from his renovated castle in Velika Kladusa.

He said that refugees and soldiers who had escaped the Bosnian army advance, by fleeing west into Serb-held areas of Croatia, had crossed back into Kladusa. The UN put the number moving across at 1,400. The UN described the situation in Velika Kladusa as 'fairly calm', adding that there was 'no reason to believe they face any immediate threat'.

Mr Abdic said that he had offered to negotiate a deal with Sarajevo but that the Bosnian government turned him down. Sergio Vieira de Mello, a senior UN official, went to Bihac yesterday to mediate between the two sides.

In Sarajevo the UN cancelled helicopter flights after a British Sea King taking off from the airport was hit by a small-arms round. There were no casualties and the helicopter later left as planned for Kiseljak. The city was relatively quiet, although the UN reported a slight increase in ceasefire violations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine