Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rockets Strike Zagreb Momentum Building for a Full-Scale War

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rockets Strike Zagreb Momentum Building for a Full-Scale War

Article excerpt

Serb missiles struck at the heart of Croatia's capital for the second day Wednesday, as Serb rebels avenged their loss of territory to the Croatian army earlier this week.

Special U.N. envoy Yasushi Akashi announced a cease-fire in the Serb-controlled chunk of central Croatia where the Croats attacked Monday and Tuesday, seizing a section of the Zagreb-Belgrade highway.

But the truce may not calm the anger and animosity between Serbs and Croats, whose bitter 1991 war killed 10,000 people in Croatia and left the Serbs in control of one-third of the new nation before the fighting spread to neighboring Bosnia.

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman warned of retaliation if Zagreb were attacked again - as the momentum builds for a full-scale Balkans war. But Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic appeared to play down the fighting in Croatia.

The Associated Press suggested that Milosevic - a chief instigator of Serb revolts in both Croatia and Bosnia - might have decided to abandon the area that Croatian forces seized, the most vulnerable of four Serb-held chunks of Croatia.

On Wednesday, one policeman was killed and 64 people, including foreign and Croat ballet dancers rehearsing for a performance, were hurt when rockets hit the Academy of Dramatic Arts, a children's hospital - where six children were hurt - and other sites.

Most of the blasts were caused by Orkan rockets, which carry cluster-bomb warheads that spray shrapnel.

The policeman was killed trying to defuse a cluster bomb caught in a tree at the main children's hospital. 21 Ballet Dancers

Dr. Andrija Djordjevic, head of surgery at the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy, said a Romanian, an ethnic Russian from Moldova, and a Pole were among 21 dancers who were wounded when the Academy of Dramatic Arts was hit.

A British dancer, Mark Bolden, had surgery to remove shrapnel from his abdomen. "I heard two big bangs and I felt a kind of pain in my legs and thighs," he told the British Broadcasting Corp. "After the second bang, I sort of realized and dropped down to the floor. By then, everybody was running already to the exit, and I saw quite a few of my colleagues were hurt."

Almira Osmanovic, the Croatian National Theater's prima ballerina, 37, got tiny bits of shrapnel so deeply embedded in her upper left leg that surgeons could not extract it. …

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