Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs Remain in Safe Zone near Gorazde U.N. to Negotiate to Remove Soldiers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs Remain in Safe Zone near Gorazde U.N. to Negotiate to Remove Soldiers

Article excerpt

Too many Serbian militiamen remain around Gorazde a week after NATO's deadline for the Serbs to withdraw, U.N. officials said Sunday.

But they said they would try to negotiate, rather than call for airstrikes, to get the Serbs to pull back from the Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia.

Several exchanges of small-arms fire were reported around Gorazde on Saturday, and the situation is unstable, said Cmdr. Eric Chaperon, a U.N. spokesman. Bosnian radio reported infantry clashes Sunday on the northern outskirts near the Pobjeda ammunition factory.

Ukrainian U.N. soldiers patrolling the Gorazde area estimated that as many as 150 Serbian militiamen remained within the 2-mile exclusion zone. U.N. military observers put the number at 40, and Chaperon said he had no figures.

"It is true," Chaperon said, "that the (U.N.) troops on the ground . . . consider that there are too many Serb militia in the area."

Serbian militiamen and police officers are not specifically mentioned in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ultimatum. But U.N. officials expressed concern at their presence. There have been reports that Serbian soldiers returned to the zone with new police uniforms and weapons.

All Serbian forces were to have withdrawn from the 2-mile zone a week ago, under threat of NATO airstrikes. A second ultimatum required all Serbian heavy weapons to be withdrawn at least 12 miles from Gorazde by last Wednesday.

Peter Kessler, a spokesman for the United Nations' refugee agency in Sarajevo, said he was concerned that the Serbian militia in Gorazde would intimidate displaced people and prevent them from returning home.

The Gorazde enclave, under siege by Serbs for most of the two-year war, is home to 65,000 residents and refugees, most of them Muslims. The U.N.-designated "safe area" is 35 miles southeast of Sarajevo.

A company of British U.N. soldiers sent to reinforce the U.N. presence in Gorazde was still blocked at Rogatica, 10 miles north of Gorazde, by Bosnian Serbs who stopped the company on Saturday. …

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