UN fears Serbian noose tightening around Sarajevo

Yasushi Akashi, the UN envoy to former Yugoslavia, who is meeting the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in Paris tomorrow, said yesterday that the strangulation of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serbs is likely to worsen over the summer. Although tension in Croatia had eased, the "prospects are still quite dark" for Sarajevo, he said.

"It's difficult to see any early break or any early lessening of this gradual tightening of the encirclement of Sarajevo," Mr Akashi said. He added that Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith, the UN commander in Bosnia, met Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, on Tuesday, "and the Serb attitude was very stern".

Eight people were injured by sniper and mortar fire in Sarajevo yesterday. On Monday, Mr Akashi rejected General Smith's request for Nato air strikes in retaliation for Serbian shelling of the city on Sunday, saying it might worsen tension in Croatia. The shells killed 11 people and landed close to the mouth of a tunnel under Sarajevo airport - the only non-UN route for goods into the city. The attack marked a turning-point for the Bosnian Serbs. Until now, they have allowed the tunnel to operate freely.

Intense artillery exchanges have closed the vital Brcko corridor that connects Serbia, northern Bosnia and Serb-held Croatia. Serbs fired at least 1,300 shells and possibly rockets in two spells into the Croat- held Orasje pocket, just north of the corridor, a UN spokesman said. Bosnian Croat forces fired back with 38 rockets, another spokesman said in Zagreb, adding that the shells fired by the Bosnian Serbs were "innumerable" and the situation was "very serious".

A UN officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Franck Verstappen, speaking in Otok, in eastern Croatia, called it the heaviest fighting in the Brcko corridor in six months. The town of Brcko dominates the corridor. So vital is the strip to the Serbs that they call it the "corridor of life." Serbs also shot down a Bosnian army helicopter over Muslim-controlled territory in eastern Bosnia, killing 12 passengers.

The strangulation of Sarajevo has worsened as the Bosnian and Croatian Serbs suffer military reverses. Flights have been suspended for a month, and the Serbs have targeted the only road into the city, a winding track over Mount Igman, which is at the mercy of Serbian fire. The 10-minute drive is a heart-stopping race against gunners in the Serb-held suburb of Ilidza. Now, the Serbs have threatened also to target cars driving into the city across the airport.

The UN is trapped between its mandate, to deliver aid and protect the six "safe areas", and a lack of international will to help the peace- keepers enforce the mandate.

"We need a serious debate on what people expect of us," said Colum Murphy, a UN spokesman, in Sarajevo.

Mr Akashi would not be drawn on the specifics of tomorrow's meeting. But in Sarajevo, Mr Murphy said: "We will ask: 'Will you please clarify your past decisions and present intentions?' "

The five-nation Contact Group, which meets in London tomorrow, is confused over how to proceed in the nine months since the Bosnian Serbs rejected its peace plan. General Smith is known to be concerned about the lack of political leadership. Mr Murphy said the general, who is also going to Paris, will tell the Secretary-General: "If you want me to do something specific, give me the capability."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
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

Year 3 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering