Sarajevo assault leaves four dead: UN armoured vehicles drive past scene of shelling but fail to stop, witnesses claim

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO - Even by standards here, the scene at the Kosevo clinic on the afternoon of New Year's Eve was gruesome.

With a quiet skill born of long experience, the clinic in the Bosnian capital sprang into action after six artillery shells hit central Sarajevo yesterday afternoon, killing four people and wounding 33. At least two shells landed in the city's main street, wounding more than a dozen civilians, many of them seriously.

Seven wounded, including two women, were sprawled in pools of blood on the pavement and in a vestibule near the capital's presidency building. One man was dead at the scene. To the east, another shell had blown a hurricane of glass shards into the street, wounding several. Passers-by struggled to load the injured into their vehicles for the trip to the nearby clinic.

Two United Nations armoured vehicles drove past the scene but failed to stop, witnesses said.

As one reporter lifted a badly wounded man into a car, the man's artificial leg - the result of an earlier war wound - fell off in the street. So many wounded arrived at the same time at the clinic they had to be piled on the floor of the lobby and given first-aid on the spot.

Doctors and nurses slithered across the blood-stained floor, applying tourniquets. Blood-soaked clothing was sliced and ripped from the injured and piled in mounds on the floor. For all the bustle, the lobby was strangely quiet. There were few moans from the injured. Kosevo's trauma teams are so experienced, they rarely have to speak during such emergencies.

One woman in a fur coat with grievous wounds to the legs and lower abdomen was dragged off by her feet into a corner, presumed dead. Some wounded had to stand or sit unattended as the more seriously wounded were treated.

Two hours later, hospital attendants were mopping the lobby floor. Neat bundles of clothing from the wounded were lined along one wall, tied with bloodied strips of gauze.

UN officials had no immediate explanation as to why their vehicles drove past the scene of the shelling without offering help, but said they were investigating.

The commander of the Muslim- led Bosnian army said yesterday his men would fight on if the republic's political leaders did not get satisfaction at the negotiating table. The remarks by General Rasim Delic came within hours of a clear indication by the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, that his country might intervene in Bosnia to stem a Muslim offensive against ethnic Croats there.

(Photograph omitted)