Nato force intervenes in Bosnian bugging stand-off

Reuters

Banja Luka - Nato soldiers intervened yesterday when special police loyal to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic seized control of a building which they said rival police were using to tap her telephones.

British troops in light armoured vehicles and two platoons of Royal Military Police deployed around the police building in the north-western town of Banja Luka to prevent possible violence, Major John Blakeley, a Nato spokesman, said.

He said the peacekeeping troops in the Nato-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) moved in after learning that Mrs Plavsic's special police units had entered the building at about 4.30am.

Several hours later, hardline nationalists opposed to Plavsic asked permission to send in their special police to counter the action, but the SFOR rejected the request.

Plavsic's police commander, Dragan Lukac, said his men seized the public security centre in Banja Luka because they believed police loyal to her government opponents were tapping telephones and faxes in the president's office.

The SFOR said the action by Mrs Plavsic's forces violated new guidelines for special police handed down by Nato this month.

"Lukac has been informed that his actions were in non-compliance with the regulations," Major Blakeley said.

British troops were in control of the building and as of last night Serb police from the rival camps were still being questioned inside, he said.

Yesterday's police action reflected rising tensions in Bosnia's Serb territory where supporters of Mrs Plavsic are waging a battle for power against loyalists of the ex-president and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

Western officials say Plavsic has been aware for some time that her office was under close surveillance from her rivals. Her police conducted a sudden search of the main hotel in Banja Luka last month looking for bugging devices.

Dragan Lukac said evidence was found yesterday that showed secret police loyal to Karadzic had "continuously tapped" the president's telephone conversations.

Momcilo Krajisnik, an ally of Karadzic and the Serb member of Bosnia's collective presidency, had contacted the SFOR asking to meet about an "urgent" matter.

Mr Krajisnik said he wanted to deploy RS (Serb republic) specialist police for an operational matter. Colonel Steven Rausch, another SFOR spokesman, said. "That permission was denied by SFOR."

Nato has set down new rules for special police in Bosnia as part of an attempt to clamp down on units which underpin Mr Karadzic's covert authority. But it was police loyal to Mrs Plavsic who ended up violating the guidelines first.

Western governments have thrown their weight behind Mrs Plavsic because they say she has shown willingness to abide by the country's peace agreement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'