Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Government Forces Take Defense in Own Hands

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Government Forces Take Defense in Own Hands

Article excerpt

WHEN the Bosnian Serbs began an advance into a second United Nations "safe area" this weekend, UN officials in Sarajevo conceded that they could do nothing to stop the fall of another Muslim enclave.

The 15,000 people crammed into eastern Bosnian town of Zepa were expected to shortly become refugees, prisoners of war, or be killed.

Meanwhile, French, British, and United States military chiefs met yesterday to come up with a strategy to end the mounting chaos on Bosnia. One possible strategy involves reinforcing the threatened safe area of Gorazde with French troops, possibly using US helicopters.

Yesterday, Bosnian Serb infantry, backed by tanks, advanced within a few hundred years of Zepa's center. Last week, Srebrenica was overrun by 1,500 Bosnian Serb troops who captured or killed thousands of that enclave's men and sent the women and children running for their lives.

The 450 Dutch troops deployed in Srebrenica to protect the enclave could do little in the face of the advancing Serbs.

The Bosnian Army has thus decided to relieve the UN of its duties. It is well aware that the UN has deemed the fall of Zepa, which has only 79 Ukrainian peacekeepers, a foregone conclusion, and that the UN also seemed unwilling and unable to protect the other safe areas.

Bosnian government troops surrounded UN bases and observation posts in Zepa and in the likely next Serb target, Gorazde, demanded the UN peacekeepers turn over their weapons. "We have the example of Srebrenica. This time we certainly aren't going to make the mistake of relying on the UN," said a former Bosnian military intelligence officer.

In Zepa, 70 Bosnian Army soldiers surrounded the Ukrainian peacekeepers at their base, and mined the entrance.

The Ukrainians at first refused to turn in their arms, but Bosnian radio reported that the Ukrainians eventually complied and turned in all their weapons.

The UN confirmed that three observation posts had been overrun and that peacekeepers' weapons were taken but could not confirm the entire unit was disarmed. In Gorazde, the Bosnian Army is using the same tactics. Soldiers surrounded the Ukrainian peacekeepers there, and fired machine guns and grenades into the base on Saturday morning. …

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