NATO boosted its patrols in Sarajevo's suburbs Sunday, in part
to soothe the government's anger at the continued presence of Serb
police officers in neighborhoods now under its control.
The warring parties largely met a deadline Saturday to pull out
of land promised to their former enemies under the Bosnian peace
But Serb police officers remained in Sarajevo over the protests
of the Muslim-led Bosnian government. It formally took control of
the entire capital, including five suburbs where tens of thousands
of Serb civilians remain.
A senior Western diplomat, speaking on the condition of
anonymity, said some of the Serb police officers were former army
members who merely changed uniform.
Late Saturday, senior NATO commanders and international
officials charged with implementing the Bosnian peace accord
agreed to let Bosnian Serb police officers remain in Sarajevo's
suburbs for 45 days.
"We shall have a phased transition," said Michael MacLay,
assistant to Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister in
charge of implementing the civilian aspects of the U.S.-brokered
But the Bosnian government said in a statement Sunday that
"there must be no armed persons except the international police
forces" and NATO soldiers in Sarajevo and its suburbs.
U.S. Soldiers Involved
NATO soldiers have been patrolling front lines and Serb-held
areas since the 60,000-member NATO-led force began arriving in
December. On Sunday, they increased the number of foot and vehicle
patrols in the Serb suburbs, said Lt. Col. Mark Rayner, a NATO
Although Sarajevo is in a French zone of responsibility, on
Sunday afternoon 10 U.S. soldiers, wearing body armor and carrying
M-16 assault rifles, moved through the drizzle, distributing
handbills and putting up large yellow posters that explained the
agreement to the Serbs.
The stepped-up patrols apparently also were meant to deter
sporadic attacks on NATO-led forces and to persuade Serbs residents
to stay. From 10,000 to 12,000 Serbs, 15 percent to 25 percent of
the total, have already fled the suburbs.
Two British soldiers suffered slight facial injuries from
sniper fire Saturday while driving in the suburb of Ilidza, where
in a separate incident a U.S. vehicle was hit by five rounds.
There were no casualties.
The Serbs who fled Sarajevo feared reprisals under Muslim-led
government control and said they could never live together again
with their enemies. International officials have sought to soothe
these fears and have encouraged highly publicized meetings between
government and Serb officials to allay Serb concerns. …