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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border