In a Sniper's Lair Lies Bosnia's Agony
THE tallies scratched on the wall tell a gruesome story in this sniper's lair: Lemi and Ivek were close competitors, but a Serb who wrote his name in Cyrillic was the best killer - he could shoot eight people in one day.Skip to next paragraph
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This freshly abandoned snipers' nest, hidden on Sarajevo's front line in the Serb-held suburb of Grbavica, points to a hatred that may be difficult for both Bosnian Serbs and Muslims to overcome.
Despite a Bosnia-wide peace agreement, Serbs here reject the part of the deal that would make them give up ''their'' part of Sarajevo. They vote in a referendum on the peace plan next week and are expected to reject it. If their dissent puts the snipers back to work, then NATO forces could find themselves in target range.
American and United Nations officials say they will not alter the peace deal. But US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, referring to Serb fears, said in Brussels that the accord must be implemented ''with sensitivity.''
But the sensitivity may be lost on Serbs here, who are aware of the crimes their forces committed and those committed against them by Muslim soldiers. They say they will burn their houses before ceding Serb land.
Many Serbs say they fear being ethnically cleansed in a united Sarajevo, and see the assurances of security given them by Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as unconvincing.
''How can I believe Alija, who is my enemy, whose system killed my father?'' asks Ida Trivonovic, a reporter for Serb Radio Grbavica. ''No one can ever force me to live with the Muslims again, no one. We will defend this city, if need be. We will die for this city.''
The city these Serbs say they will die for has become over the years a gray ruin, brightened only by the colorful yellow signs that warn - just as they do on the Muslim side - ''Beware Sniper!''
Thousands of Serbs turned out yesterday for a demonstration rally in Grbavica, another in a series that have become regular fixtures of protest. Some stomped on an American flag.
''I'm for peace, but is this going to be a real peace, or just the foundation for a new war?'' said a young Serb soldier who asked not to be named. His father is a Serb, his mother a Muslim, and his brother fought on the other side of the front line until he was injured by a Serb bullet.
''No one should be happier [than me] that Sarajevo is to become multiethnic again,'' he said. ''But the experience of this war tells me that it is no longer possible. I don't believe anymore in this principle. I want to live with my brother, but it is not possible in this situation.''
Many have found it too difficult to look for hope here and are preparing to flee their part of the city. Bitterness runs as deeply here as it does in government-controlled areas, and few seem ready to embrace their former enemies.
''We know the facts,'' said Drazenko Dukanovic, director of the Serb Oslobodenje (Freedom) newspaper, who was wounded by a Muslim sniper. Muslims may be afraid to cross into Serb land, he says, but the fear is mutual.
''We have had a long and bloody war, so we are also afraid to go to their side,'' he said. ''We are frightened.''