Serbs kidnap families on road into Sarajevo



At least 17 Bosnian citizens, including two children and one woman, have been detained by Serb police while travelling on a road into Sarajevo, according to the Bosnian government, despite Nato's obligations under the Dayton peace plan to provide a safe environment for the free movement of civilians.

Officials from I-For (Nato's peace implementation force) have repeatedly denied receiving any reports about the alleged abductions in the Serb- held suburb of Ilidza, and last night issued a statement saying the government had failed to follow up its demands for action with specific details of the alleged attacks.

Hasan Muratovic, the Bosnian minister responsible for liaison with I- For, said the government had raised the matter with I-For on five occasions: twice through the tripartite Joint Military Commission - one attended by Lieutenant-General Michael Walker, Nato's land commander; twice through letters, the first dated 29 December; and once at a meeting with Nato officers working for Brigadier-General Louis Zeller, French commander in Sarajevo.

The Nato statement admitted Gen Zeller had received the letters and "continues to pursue the matter with the appropriate parties". The approach to Gen Walker was described as "informal"; the general agreed to investigate "if specific details were given, with evidence". I-For would address the issue at the next Commission meeting, tomorrow, and in talks with the mayor of Ilidza today.

Col Vladimir Rybnikov, who heads the UN Civilian Police (Civpol), also sent a report detailing the incidents - without independent confirmation - to Gen Zeller on Monday. "What we know at the moment, according to information from the Bosnian liaison office, is that 16 people are missing in the area of Ilidza," Col Rybnikov said yesterday afternoon, before Mr Muratovic upped the toll to 17.

"The response from the Serbian side was that they could not confirm that these people were in prison."

At the police station in Ilidza, one of five suburbs due to revert to government rule, a Serb official told us to return to discuss the issue with the "inspector for strangers". Asked whether any Bosnians had been arrested, he replied: "There is nobody here now." But a senior Serb officer told Colonel Rybnikov he believed the drivers were being held to bump up the numbers for prisoner swaps: "They are looking for more people to put on the list for future exchanges," he quoted the officer as saying.

Mr Muratovic's list includes Mehmed Kusundzija, a truck driver reported missing on Christmas Day with two colleagues. Mr Kusundzija had telephoned his family to tell them he was setting off for Sarajevo, but never reached home. A few days later, the family said, an unidentified man telephoned to say Mr Kusundzija was in good health at the Ilidza police station, and would be released this week. The family heard Mr Kusundzija's voice in the back-ground, but were not allowed to speak to him. The Hondo family, including two young children, was detained on 27 December, according to Mr Muratovic. And on New Year's Day, he added, one carload was stopped by Serb police, robbed but then released, while another car carrying three passengers was taken away.

"They [I-For] must act on this," Mr Muratovic said. The government has urged people not to use routes out of Sarajevo leading through Serb- held territory for the time being, and has asked I-For to reinstate armed escorts with UN peace-keepers through hostile land.

Colonel Rybnikov agrees; on Monday he told General Zeller's chief of staff: "The cancellation of military escorts has come too early."

I-For has said the issue is more suited to the International Police Task Force ordained by the Dayton agreement, which should answer to the civilian peace mission. Unfortunately, the civilian side, led by Carl Bildt, who is due to reach Sarajevo today, has yet to start its work.


ZUPANJA, Croatia - The first US casualty of Nato's Bosnia peace mission flew to Germany yesterday, proudly showing off a Purple Heart medal awarded to him on Sunday after he was injured by an anti-tank mine. The blast blew the front off Martin John Begosh's vehicle and smashed his leg.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

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
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam