Serb push puts Bihac at risk
Balkan conflict: Thinly-stretched Bosnian government forces flee as Mladic's men seize back land they lost last month
Tuesday 03 October 1995
The Serbs have also pushed to within six miles of Bosanska Krupa, where refugees have already returned to homes occupied by the Serbs for three years, and shelled the outskirts of the town on Sunday, prompting concern among international observers that Bihac, 18 miles to the south, is at risk. "If they move south, then they can start shelling Bihac again, which they will do at the first opportunity," one said.
Although the UN yesterday reported that Krupa had been placed on red alert, the observers said it was calm yesterday morning, with no signs of panic among the returning civilian population. However, helicopters were seen moving in and out of Bihac, probably ferrying wounded from the front lines.
Fifth Corps soldiers, acting in concert with the Croatian Army pushing from the south, seized thousands of square miles of territory around a main road linking Bihac to central Bosnia via the town of Jajce, and moved within artillery range of the Serbs' northern stronghold, Banja Luka. But in the past few days, Serb forces have begun to retaliate, capitalising on the exhaustion of the thinly stretched Bosnian soldiers.
On Sunday, a brigade moving west towards Sanski Most through a narrow finger of land sticking into Serb territory came under heavy fire from three sides, and was almost cut off as Galeb jets bombed their positions. One witness said the brigade was exhausted even before the planned Bosnian attack.
"Then the Serbs launched a counter-attack, so the troops who were to attack were tied up in that, and the soldiers just panicked," he said, adding that he and the others ran for their lives through a wave of explosive bullets. "The Serbs had 150 Muslim forced labourers digging trenches on the front line the government forces were supposed to attack, which did not improve their morale."
However, the observer did not assess the defeat as catastrophic, adding that although the Bosnian forces lost the finger of land, their lines seemed to be holding firm at the base. "I don't think the Bosnian Serbs can capitalise as much as they should," said another military expert. "I don't think there is any real problem [for Fifth Corps] at the moment."
The Fifth Corps might now decide that their chances of taking Sanski Most before the winter are slim, and could concentrate instead on holding the line around Bosanska Krupa and pushing on the Serb-held town of Mrkonjic Grad.
This is the last remaining obstacle on the road south-east from Bihac to central Bosnia: capture of the road would bring huge benefits to the Bosnian government, which would have a firm link with Bihac and a much shorter supply route from Croatia to central Bosnia.
South Korea ferry passengers who were told to stay put 'got trapped' aboard sinking ship
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness 'unqualified' to testify
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness contradicts athlete's version in new blow for defence team
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...