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.

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

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

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
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?