US says attack will not derail talks

EMMA DALY

Belgrade

Despite international promises to punish attacks on UN "safe areas" in Bosnia, the attack on Sarajevo brought widespread expressions of horror mixed with determination to continue the peace process.

The death by mortar fire of least 37 Sarajevans "will only make us redouble our effort," said Richard Holbrooke, US Assistant Secretary of State.

Baroness Chalker, Minister for Overseas Development, said in London that the attack illustrated the urgent need for a political solution, though the shadow foreign secretary, Robin Cook, said the authority of the international community in Bosnia would be undermined if UN forces did not hit back.

Carl Bildt, the European Union envoy, called it "the strongest argument we can find for going forward with the peace process."

The UN could not apportion certain blame; but officials noted that the fire came from an area mostly controlled by the Bosnian Serbs. The Bosnian government demanded the suspension of the peace process and air strikes by Nato.

The alliance has not ruled out any options, but Western politicians keen for a resolution of the Bosnian war may find it hard to sanction air raids against the Bosnian Serbs just as Mr Holbrooke embarks on another diplomatic round. Although the decision to call in the jets rests with the French UN commander, General Bernard Janvier, he is unlikely to act without authorisation from Paris.

Britain described the attack as senseless - but the fatal mortar was fired with a purpose, probably that of complicating Mr Holbrooke's peace mission.

Sarajevo's response to the US proposals - which amount to the partition of Bosnia - has been less than enthusiastic, but the government long ago accepted an international peace deal.

It is the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale that fears the Holbrooke deal, analysts in Belgrade say, particularly the demand that Belgrade and its delegates speak for the rebel Serbs in Bosnia.

Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, is already out of favour with Serbia and risks losing power, money and influence - everything - if President Slobodan Milosevic is induced to lead the negotiations.

Time is running out for Mr Karadzic; on Sunday Mr Holbrooke warned Pale that it had only weeks to accept a peace deal or risk serious Nato involvement. So far, the rebel Serbs have proved extremely canny in estimating the Western stomach for a fight. Even as world leaders at the London conference in July promised a forceful defence of the UN-declared safe areas in Bosnia, Mr Karadzic's troops were storming the enclave of Zepa.

Ordinary Bosnians long ago surrendered dreams of international intervention; officials struggle against outside political pressure to throw in the towel and accept what they see as an unjust peace. But neither side believes that Nato and the UN have the political will to act forcefully against the Bosnian Serbs. It remains to be seen whether Mr Karadzic and his colleagues in Pale, who have played the world and won, have made their first fatal error.

SARAJEVO'S HISTORY OF TERROR

1 March 1992: Bosnia chooses independence from Yugoslavia in majority vote by Muslims and Croats. Vote boycotted by Serbs, who declare their own "republic".

6 April: EU and US recognise Bosnia. Pro-independence Bosnians storm rebel Serb headquarters in Sarajevo's Holiday Inn hotel. Yugoslav army and Bosnian Serb irregulars seal off city. Siege begins.

27 May: Twenty killed and 70 wounded in mortar attack on bread queue, first of a series of atrocities against civilians. Attack blamed on Serbs. Serbs claim Bosnian troops fired at own people in an effort to blame the Serbs and provoke Nato intervention.

4 Sept: Italian plane flying aid to Sarajevo is shot down and four crewmen killed. UN believes culprits may have been Bosnian Croats at odds with the mostly Muslim government.

May 1993: Young couple, one a Muslim and the other 1993 a Serb, shot dead while trying to flee Sarajevo. Bodies cannot be retrieved for days because of gunfire in the area.

30 May: Sixteen Sarajevans die in intense Serb artillery bombardment of densely populated city neighbourhoods.

1 June: Two mortar bombs land in car park where young men are playing soccer, killing 15 people and wounding 100.

12 July: Twelve civilians die in mortar attack on residents queuing at a water well in the suburb of Dobrinja, because power cuts have knocked out pumps supplying water to homes.

22 July: Sarajevo weathers one of worst bombardments in 24-hour period since the war began as 3,777 shells pummel the city. About 10 civilians are killed and scores wounded.

9 Nov: Mortar bomb lands just outside Sarajevo school, killing nine children and a teacher.

22 Jan 1994: Mortar bomb falls among children playing in snow, killing six and wounding 35 in attack blamed by UN on Serbs.

5 Feb: Mortar bomb hits crowded market in centre of city, killing 68 people and wounding around 200 in worst single atrocity of war in Bosnia. Serbs deny responsibility for attack. Source never definitively fixed, since shell was fired from front-line zone.

29 July: Serbs target vehicles on sole government supply road into Sarajevo. British soldier killed in Serb attack on UN convoy.

28 Aug 1995: Thirty-seven people were killed and dozens wounded when mortar bomb lands in crowded street near Sarajevo's central market.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence