Mostar Tense after Second Croat Attack on Muslims

By Nicholas Doughty and Jonathan Clayton Reuter Mostar | The Independent (London, England), January 6, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Mostar Tense after Second Croat Attack on Muslims


Nicholas Doughty and Jonathan Clayton Reuter Mostar, The Independent (London, England)


NICHOLAS DOUGHTY and

JONATHAN CLAYTON

Reuter

Mostar - The shooting of two Muslim policemen sent ethnic tension soaring in the divided city of Mostar yesterday and a European Union administrator appealed for calm, saying dialogue, not Nato intervention, was vital.

"It would be a lie if I said I had everything under control but I hope that serious people will understand how dangerous the situation is," said Hans Koschnick, the EU administrator in Mostar, south Bosnia.

"Do not throw oil on the fire. We are trying to calm things down but we are not in a good situation," he said.

He was speaking after a hail of bullets from the Croat sector of the city hit a Muslim police car on Thursday night, seriously wounding two officers inside. One was hit in the stomach, the other in the leg.

Mr Koschnick, who leads an EU administration set up in 1994 after a Croat- Muslim war devastated the historic city, said the solution to Mostar's problems had to be civilian and not imposed by the Nato-led Bosnian peace implementation force (I-For).

"There is no need to involve I-For in the situation in Mostar. People must get together in a democratic way and by talking build understanding for the future," he said.

The EU has been trying to form a joint administration uniting the Muslim and Croat communities, who face each other across a "confrontation line". It also wants to start reconstruction of Mostar, once one of Yugoslavia's top tourist attractions.

But tensions have risen since Bosnian Croat police shot dead a Muslim youth on New Year's Day, an incident which Mr Koschnick described as murder or manslaughter. "I do not consider it to have been an accident," he said.

A series of less serious incidents culminated in Thursday's shooting on the Bulevar, a once-elegant boulevard now in ruins which forms part of the confrontation line.

Police run by the Western European Union (WEU), the EU's defence arm, were investigating the case of the policemen. "Thank God one of them at least is no longer in danger of losing his life," said Mr Koschnick, a former mayor of Bremen.

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