Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fighting Halts as Serbs Run for Cover

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fighting Halts as Serbs Run for Cover

Article excerpt

Fighting ebbed Sunday in northwestern Bosnia, where up to 50,000 exhausted Serbs were struggling to survive after fleeing before government and Croat forces.

In a bitter twist in the 3 1/2-year-old war, many of the Serb refugees are now at Omarska, site of one of the most notorious prison camps set up when Bosnian Serb rebels overran much of Bosnia in 1992.

A field hospital has been treating both civilians and soldiers wounded in the latest fighting. Aid workers say some older refugees are dying, apparently exhausted after being uprooted by rapid shifts in the front lines in northern Bosnia in the last six weeks.

Yet the U.S.-brokered truce that started Thursday was being observed throughout the country, U.N. officials said Sunday. The Muslim-led Bosnian government claimed on Saturday that it was halting its offensive in northwestern Bosnia, amid reports that Serbia had threatened to send in its army.

A mechanized Croatian army unit, including 22 tanks, was crossing from Bosnia back into Croatia on Sunday, U.N. spokeswoman Leah Melnick said in Zagreb, Croatia. In addition, more than 2,500 Croatian soldiers moved away from positions along Bosnia's northern border with Croatia on Saturday, Melnick said.

Bosnian army commanders met for five hours in Sarajevo late Saturday and dispatched a senior officer to the northwest, apparently to ensure that government soldiers there observed the truce, army sources said. Uprooted Serbs

In Omarska, John Sparrow of the International Red Cross said Saturday that some of the Serb refugees were living in a mine that had served as a Serb detention center in 1992, but most were in the open.

Prison camps such as the one at Omarska provided the world with some of the most gripping images of alleged Serb atrocities in the war. Footage of emaciated Muslim prisoners and reports of mass killings focused outrage on the Serbs and helped spur calls for international action to stop the war and punish war criminals. …

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