Would-be warlord abandons faithful

BALKAN TURMOIL : REBEL'S FATE; US diplomat sounds out Milosevic 8 Zagreb readies for offensive on south coast 8 Serbs deny key Bosnian town fell to Croats y News strap Book locked to grid strap Book locked top grid

Zagreb - These are refugees with no friends. More than 30,000 Muslims have been stranded, without aid, rejected by Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia alike, writes Sarah Helm. Their leader, Fikret Abdic, the Bosnian chicken farmer-come-Muslim warlord, apparently has abandoned them to the elements. Or worse.

Unconfirmed reports have Mr Abdic living it up in the Palace Hotel in Zagreb, forging new alliances with the Croat government. Furthermore, the UN and other agencies are being barred access to the Abdic refugees by the Croat authorities, on whose land they are stranded. The Croats say the area is too dangerous to visit, due to pockets of Serb fighters.

This latest and most bizarre refugee crisis is another tragic consequence of the Croat offensive to re-capture Serb-held Krajina, which led to the liberation of the Muslim enclave of Bihac, across the border in Bosnia. Fikret Abdic, who hails from the Bosnian town of Velka Kladusa, near Bihac, was once a wealthy entrepreneur who made his money "in chickens". After disagreements with Bosnian Muslim leaders early in the war, he recruited a rebel Muslim army, formed an alliance with Croatian Serbs and helped them in their attack on his fellow Muslims in Bihac. Once the Serb siege of Bihac was broken, Mr Abdic and his men took to the hills.

The whereabouts of Mr Abdic has been the subject of much speculation. He has been sighted in Belgrade and Zagreb. There are those in Zagreb who believe Croatia may be talking quietly to Mr Abdic, who could aid them in any bid to secure Croat influence in Bihac.

Meanwhile, Mr Abdic's followers, fearing vengeance from the Bihac Muslims, have crossed into Croatia, and have set up a makeshift camp south of Vojnic. According to the UN, the plight of the 30,000 is worsening by the day, with disease breaking out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?