Quibbles about electricity let Bosnian army press on

Street lights glowed dimly along Sarajevo's main street last night for the first time in months, and house lights sparkled across the hills around the city. But the government, to the irritation of UN officials and diplomats desperate to move the peace process forward, was not satisfied, insisting a cease-fire must wait for the extra 15 to 20 megawatts of power.

But the quibbling over power levels is almost certainly not the real reason for the delay. One diplomat, asked to explain the government's position, replied laconically: "Mrkonjic Grad."

The town, last obstacle on a major road linking government gains in northern and central Bosnia, fell to the Bosnian army yesterday. The Bosnian Serbs admitted a retreat from the town last night.

In another couple of days, the Bosnian Army should have secured Mrkonjic Grad and the road from Bihac to Travnik and might also have won control of Sanski Most and perhaps even Prijedor, securing another key road from Croatia.

The latter towns are also infamous as two major centres of murder, rape and ethnic cleansing: more than 4,000 Muslims have been expelled from the area in the past few days alone.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday said 8,000 to 9,000 Muslims were facing expulsion across the front line to central Bosnia. Some 650 refugees, with their tales of horror, were expelled from the northern town of Sanski Most by paramilitaries loyal to Zeljko Raznatovic, the notorious warlord known as Arkan.

The UNHCR in Sarajevo said those expelled told stories of rape, robbery and torture, and of being detained without food in a makeshift camp as their men were taken away.

Once the ceasefire is in place, the UN may at last win access to northern Bosnia, where heavy fighting has reduced Serb holdings in the past few weeks. The peace-keepers will need freedom of movement along front lines to monitor the truce and report violations. At present, Sarajevo is probably the only front-line area where the UN has a decent view.

Sarajevo city centre and parts of the new town were enjoying the delights of (heavily restricted) power supplies, and even, in some privileged areas, water yesterday.

As was the case before the Serbs cut off electricity in May, residents are allowed to use only a few watts - enough to power a television set, a couple of lights and a stove, but no heating - hence the vital importance of gas supplies as winter approaches.

"The city is in the process of being completely gassed up," said Gordon Hay of the British Overseas Development Administration. "It is actually flowing into houses at the moment in the centre of the city and the new part of town."

The ODA engineers were promising a constant supply rather than the 24 hours on, 24 hours off Sarajevans were accustomed to. And the gas now smells, which should cut the number of explosions. In the past, as pressure fluctuated and pilot lights failed, odourless gas built up until some unfortunate householder lit a match.

"We've lived in the dark for so long," Bosiljka Maraus said, her eyes filling with tears, as the lights went on.

"I don't know what to do first ... I will cook something, then I will clean the flat." City streets filled with the hum of vacuum cleaners and the sound of music yesterday - though most people, like Mrs Maraus, did the chores first, fearing the supply would cut out after three or four hours.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments