SERB SOLDIERS VENT THEIR WRATH ON JOURNALISTS

* Four Western reporters, on their way to cover a major Muslim-led government military offensive, were held at gunpoint by Bosnian Serb forces on Sunday.

Serb soldiers assaulted one reporter, confiscated some of the reporters' notebooks, and ordered them to leave the area or be killed.

The encounter began in the town of Donji Lapac where the reporters ran into about 20 bedraggled and bearded Bosnian Serb soldiers fleeing the fighting. The fighters, hostile and brooding after their unprecedented retreat, at first refused to speak, repeating oft-aired charges that the world's press has waged an anti-Serb disinformation campaign.

But they gradually loosened up, some insisting that the Muslim-led Fifth Corps that was leading the offensive had been armed by United Nations peacekeepers. Others charged that their foes had been well-prepared by hiding in the town in violation of a UN designation of the town as a ``safe area'' free from fighting.

The interviews were abruptly interrupted when a Serb officer leaned out the window of a nearby building and shouted at the journalists, ``Stop your work immediately and leave, or I will kill you. Get out or I'll kill.''

The journalists then began heading toward the mayor's office, in the company of a UN police officer, to ask permission to remain in the town. The Bosnian Serb officer, however, came out of his office and began yelling, ``We are not the aggressor. Why don't you go to Bihac?''

He then pointed his assault rifle at this reporter and said, ``Get out of here or I'll kill you. Quickly.'' After that, the officer drew back his Kalasnikov rifle and slammed it between the shoulder blades of another reporter. The reporters walked quickly back to their car.

The officer and the soldiers then blocked the road and demanded the reporters surrender their notebooks before allowing them to leave this mountain backwater just inside Croatia's rebel Serb-held Krajina region.

The reporters handed over only two notepads, managing to hide the rest.

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