Mystery over 'secret French air raid' on Pale

BOSNIA CRISIS: BOMB PUZZLE

There was speculation in Paris yesterday that a series of unexplained explosions in the Bosnian Serb capital, Pale, yesterday and on Sunday, was the result of unilateral air action by France, following the killing of two French soldiers in Sarajevo at the weekend. Although this was denied by the Elysee, denials from the Defence Minister, Charles Millon, were less categorical.

The claim appeared in newspaper Liberation, in a small article headed "Did a Mirage drop a bomb on Pale?". The reporter, Jean Guisnel, said the newspaper had received information that an unidentified aircraft overflying Pale on Sunday was a French Mirage and that it had been responsible for one or two explosions in the centre of the town at 1300 hours that day. He said the paper had been unable to confirm the report, but that the detail suggested it had some foundation.

According to Liberation, the Mirage flew from French air force headquarters at Mont-de-Marsan under the radar cover of another Mirage which was making an authorised reconnaissance flight. The plane in question was a Mirage 2000-D belonging and it carried a laser-guided bomb primed with one ton of explosive.

The paper said that "Operation Rakam-1" had been ordered personally by President Jacques Chirac from Dakar, the Senagalese capital, where he was ending his five-day tour of Africa, was masterminded by military intelligence, and carried out by four senior air force officers.

On arriving over Sarajevo, the two planes separated. One made the agreed reconnaissance flight, taking photographs of damage inflicted by the reprisal attacks on Bosnian Serb positions. The other diverted to Pale and dropped its bomb - "targeted on a residence belonging to a close associate of Radovan Karadzic" - from a height of 10,000ft. Nato in Naples denied it had any planes in the area at the time. By late yesterday, Nato was still investigating the mystery raid.

The response to the Liberation article was immediate. Mr Chirac's spokesman, Catherine Colonna, was authorised to give a radio interview from the President's plane, mid-way between Dakar and Paris, denying the story. "It's untrue," she said. "The only military instruction the President has given is that Unprofor should be reinforced, nothing else."

But Mr Millon said carefully that although he did not know where Liberation had got its information from, "if it were true, it could be seen as an appropriate response to the logic of war chosen by the Serbs".

Mr Chirac has not concealed his frustration with what he sees as the compromising stance adopted by the West in Bosnia. It was his response to the fall of the Srebrenica "safe area" that led to this weekend's ultimatum to the Serbs and the decision to deploy extra British and French troops around Sarajevo.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test