Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

British Reinforce U.N. in Bosnia Serbs Threaten `Accident,' but Free 6 Hostages

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

British Reinforce U.N. in Bosnia Serbs Threaten `Accident,' but Free 6 Hostages

Article excerpt

British troops began to land in the Balkans on Tuesday to reinforce a U.N. mission beset by assaults, threats and a jumbled mandate.

Bosnian Serbs holding hundreds of peacekeepers hostage sharpened their rhetoric, warning one U.N. official to be quiet or face an "accident." The Serbs also freed six French U.N. soldiers and presented new demands to a world already insisting that they back down.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic demanded guarantees of no further NATO air attacks like those that demolished a Serb ammunition dump Friday.

Karadzic also demanded that six government-controlled U.N. "safe areas," including Sarajevo, be demilitarized and that the United Nations prevent illicit arms shipments to the Bosnian government.

Karadzic apparently was positioning himself to barter for the release of about 370 U.N. soldiers held by the Serbs. He warned against adding more military muscle to the beleaguered U.N. mission.

"The more soldiers you will send, the more violence you will get," Karadzic said. Serb anti-aircraft gunners underscored his words by firing on two NATO warplanes over Sarajevo. They missed.

But the West was not listening to Serb words or weapons. The vanguard of thousands of Western troops was arriving Tuesday in an Adriatic port less than 40 miles from the Bosnian border.

Two transport planes landed at Split, Croatia, with an advance party of 36 British soldiers - the first of up to 6,200 reinforcements. Three other transport aircraft bringing mine-clearing and engineering equipment and light cannons followed them.

Two thousand U.S. Marines and a French aircraft carrier also moved closer, off the Adriatic coast less than 120 miles southwest of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.

The foreign ministers of the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Russia - the so-called Contact Group that oversees peace efforts in Bosnia - opted for additional muscle. They urged U.N. commanders to strengthen and regroup peacekeepers.

Robert Frasure, chief U.S. negotiator in the Balkans, was due today in Belgrade for talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

U.S. and NATO officials said Frasure would try to enlist the help of Milosevic to win the release of the hostages. Frasure's mission also will involve a Western offer to Serbia of a partial suspension of U.N. economic sanctions in return for recognition of Bosnia.

Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher said Frasure's mission was to drive a wedge between Milosevic and Karadzic, whose shared goal of a larger Serbia arising from the disintegration of Yugoslavia has inspired Serbs in Bosnia and in Croatia to go on the offensive against Muslims and Croats.

At a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in the Netherlands, Christopher told CNN television, "I would not want to encourage any thought that the United States was about to engage in a commando raid. …

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