Fighting in Croatia, Bosnia Draws UN Ire, Stalls Talks
SERB forces launched a fierce counterattack yesterday after losing ground to Croatian forces in raids in the Croatian region of Krajina. The Croatian attacks had threatened the Serb's Krajina command center at Knin.
The United Nations warned Croatia of unspecified action if the raids continue. Croatian forces were retaking land lost to Serb forces in war a year ago, and which the UN had demanded that the Serbs return. As a result of the renewed fighting, UN-sponsored peace talks stalled in Geneva, amid international condemnation and an exchange of accusations among Serbs, Croats, and Muslim Slavs in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.
France dispatched an eight-ship naval task force to the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Croatia yesterday to protect or possibly evacuate its forces participating in UN peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. The task force was led by the aircraft-carrier Clemenceau, armed with a full complement of warplanes including Jaguar fighter-bombers and Mirage fighters, and was expected to join the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal in the Adriatic Sunday.
Italy also offered yesterday to allow French planes to use its air bases for missions over the former Yugoslavia, although France has made no request by press time. At least 10 French troops remain trapped in the cross-fire not far from the town of Zadar, Croatia, yesterday; two French peacekeepers have been killed thus far in fighting in the former Yugoslavia.
Fighting yesterday threatened the heavily mined Peruca Dam on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Serbs mined the dam after taking control of it in war last year, and a major disaster for surrounding towns was expected if mortar fire detonated the mines planted in the dam. The Serb forces used weapons seized last weekend from lightly guarded UN warehouses in Croatia; the UN has demanded that the arms be returned.
Serb gunners resumed artillery attacks on Sarajevo, the besieged capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, after a recent Muslim offensive there. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, made a one-day visit to Sarajevo yesterday to negotiate the passage of UN relief supplies blocked by Croatian forces. Hundreds of thousands trapped in Sarajevo are dependent on the food and medical supplies.