Serb killing of priest and nun angers the Pope

Serb forces in northern Bosnia, now home to more than 10,000 refugees from Croatia, have sought revenge for Zagreb's capture of western Slavonia by attacking a Bosnian Croat pocket and razing a Roman Catholic church, killing a priest and a nun.

The Pope yesterday condemned the murder of Fr Filip Lukenda and Sister Cecilia Grbic, whose charred bodies were found in the ruins of St Theresa, blown up on Friday morning in the Serb-held town of Banja Luka in northern Bosnia.

"Who can remain silent and passive in the face of such barbarity? Who can condone such savagery, whatever side it comes from?" the Pope said yesterday.

"Together with all those who are suffering or gripped by fear I want to say: 'Enough of hatred. Enough of bloodshed. Enough of war.' "

As he spoke, the United Nations recorded more than 2,000 detonations within three hours yesterday morning along the front line of the Orasje pocket, south of the Sava river border with Croatia and north of the Serb- held Posavina corridor, a vital supply route.

It was the fifth day of a three-pronged Bosnian Serb attack on the pocket, which is held by Bosnian Croat forces, probably helped by the Croatian army.

"The Serbs are probably pursuing two issues: one, revenge [for the Croatian blitzkrieg in western Slavonia] and two, it's very easy to target the Posavina corridor from Orasje," a UN official said.

"So you have a political reason and a military one for this attack."

The Serbs are not thought to have made any significant advance in the area. The corridor leads from Serbia to Serb-held territory in western Bosnia and Krajina in Croatia.

The Bosnian government has a long-held dream of cutting the corridor; the Serbs are determined to widen and secure it. Every spring, analysts raise the spectre of a decisive battle there.