A special envoy from the European Community has started talks with leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina's rival ethnic groups in a bid to halt fighting across the newly independent state.

The United Nations, also worried by violence in the former Yugoslav republic, said it would send former United States Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on a fact-finding mission to Bosnia.

EC envoy Jose Cutilheiro had individual meetings with Muslim and Croat leaders, who support Bosnia's independence, and leaders of its Serb minority, who oppose the move. He also met the local commander of the Serb-led Yugoslav Army.

But the talks did little to quell fighting which has killed dozens of people in the past week and driven tens of thousands from their homes. The Yugoslav Army, which was reported to have seized the strategic western town of Kupres April 8, said Saturday it had routed Croat paramilitary forces from nearby villages.

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