'You are patients, not prisoners'

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The Independent Online


of Associated Press

Sokolac, Bosnia - Six British peace-keepers injured in a road accident after they were detained by Bosnian Serbs are being treated in a Serb military hospital.

They were injured on Sunday night after their armoured troop carrier skidded off a road. All are in stable and uncritical condition in Sokolac, 22 miles north-east of the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale.

They were identified to a visiting reporter as David John Jones, Martin Williams, Ion Smith, Laurence Parru, Steven McCabe and Jonathan Richardson, all from Wales.

They were ordered by the Bosnian Serbs to leave their post and detained in a move to take UN personnel hostage in retaliation for last week's Nato air-strikes on Serb ammunition depots near Pale.

"We were not told we were taken prisoners of war, we were just told to move to a safe place," Parru, who drove the carrier, said. He broke his right arm. The six Britons were put into one unguarded hospital room. They were told they were not prisoners but patients. But it was not immediately clear where they would be taken after recovery.

"I wouldn't like to say ... what were the thoughts in my mind, but I was very scared," said McCabe. "Our officer told us to calm down and that, as long as we don't shoot anyone, we'll be okay."