Gorazde Massacre, Serbs Kill 50 Bosniaks in First-Aid Center
By CHUCK SUDETIC,
Published: June 14, 1993
SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 13— More than 50 people were reported killed today at an improvised first-aid center when Bosnian Serb forces unleashed heavy artillery barrages on Gorazde, which the United Nations designated a safe area less than two weeks ago.
The Sarajevo radio reported that the shelling had left Goradze’s streets littered with bodies and that a rocket had exploded in the first-aid center, killing all 50 or so people inside. The number of deaths, if confirmed, would be among the highest in a single attack since fighting began in Bosnia in April 1992.
“No one survived,” said Fahrudin Becic, a ham-radio operator reporting from Gorazde. “The place is now a mixture of body parts, bricks and plaster.”
Muslims Flood Area
As many as 60,000 Muslims [Bosniaks], including thousands of refugees from Visegrad, Foca and other eastern Bosnian towns, are crowded into the Gorazde area, the only Muslim enclave in the once mostly Muslim Drina River valley that the Serbian forces have not captured or neutralized.
Deputy Prime Minister Hadzo Efendic of Bosnia called on the Bosnian leadership to cancel meetings with United Nations officials in Geneva and return to Sarajevo because Gorazde’s defenses were reported to be on the verge of collapse as Serbian troops penetrated Muslim lines.
The seven-member collective Bosnian presidency, which consists of Croats and Serbs as well as Muslims, issued an order in Geneva urging Muslim and Croatian forces to stop their fighting in central Bosnia as Muslim and Croatian leaders met to consider power-sharing arrangements.
The Sarajevo radio reported that the Serbs were advancing on Gorazde from the direction of Rogatica, Visegrad, Cajnice and Foca. The radio said that as many as 75 people had been killed in the enclave since Saturday in some of the worst fighting there since the nationalist Serbs initiated the war 14 months ago, after the Sarajevo Government declared independence.
U.N. Is Refused Entry
United Nations military observers in a neighboring safe area, Zepa, reported hearing heavy shelling coming from the direction of Gorazde, Andy Burridge, a United Nations spokesman, said.
The reports have not been confirmed, however, because Bosnian Serb leaders have refused United Nations military observers and relief convoys entry into Gorazde. Although the Muslims in the enclave have pleaded for medical and food aid, United Nations military officials in Sarajevo insist that no United Nations personnel can enter the area without the Serbs’ permission.
Nonetheless, the Security Council resolution that brought the 8,000-strong peacekeeping force to Bosnia says it can use all available force to protect the delivery of relief supplies.
Serbian leaders have consistently frustrated attempts by the peacekeepers to carry out their mission. On Saturday, the Bosnian Serbs’ military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, was reported to have told the United Nations commander in the former Yugoslavia, Lieut. Gen. Lars-Eric Wahlgren of Sweden, that entry of the military observers into Gorazde was up to Bosnian Serb political leaders. Last week, though, the top Bosnian Serb political leader, Radovan Karadzic, told United Nations officials that the decision was up to General Mladic.
An Appeal to Leave
Tonight, the Belgrade radio reported that Bosnian Serb military officials had appealed to the people in Gorazde to leave, saying they would guarantee them safe passage if they left through Ustipraca.
“There is not much time left,” the officials were quoted as saying.
If Gorazde falls, the uprooting of the 60,000 people there would amount to the largest single instance of “ethnic cleansing” in the Bosnian war.
The latest offensive against Gorazde began around June 4, when the United Nations Security Council designated six Bosnian towns as safe areas, authorized the deployment of thousands of additional peacekeepers to protect them, and approved the use of air strikes against Serbian forces besieging them.
For their part, Bosnian Serb officials deny that their forces have attacked Gorazde, just as they denied attacking and overrunning the Muslim enclaves of Kamenica and Cerska as well as attacking Srebrenica and Zepa.
Shelling in Sarajevo
Artillery showered much of Sarajevo late Saturday and today as Serbian and Bosnian forces exhanged fire. The artillery was especially heavy around the suburb of Vogosca, where Bosnian Army defenders were reported to have attacked in an effort to capture strategic high ground.
At least three shells landed within several hundred yards of the residence compound of the United Nations military force here, including one that struck the roof, the military spokesman, Comdr. Barry Frewer, said.
Commander Frewer refused to link the shelling of the compound to the warning by the United Nations military commander in Bosnia, Gen. Philippe Morillon of France, on Saturday that the peacekeeping force would withdraw unless Bosnia’s Serbian, Croatian and Bosniak leaders made some commitment to peace.
Near the central Bosnian town of Novi Travnik, fighting continued today between mostly Muslim Bosnian Army units and Croats. About half of the vehicles in a private relief convoy bound for the northern city of Tuzla left Croat-controlled territory around Vitez on Saturday, two days after Croatian militiamen and civilians attacked it, killing nine drivers and looting dozens of trucks.
“They are being shepherded through,” Commander Frewer said, referring to convoy vehicles being escorted through hostile Croatian areas by United Nations armored personnel carriers.
The Bosnian-Croatian fighting across the central part of this country has nearly shut down the utilities in Sarajevo, United Nations officials said here today.
Electricity supplies have been reduced to about 3 percent of normal because transmission lines from the south have been cut by the fighting near Jablanica and Konjic, and a power plant in Kakanj has stopped working because of fighting there, said Maj. Michel Maufrais of France, an engineer with the United Nations force.
‘Europe Is Responsible’
“If you have no electricity, you cannot run the pumping station,” he said. “And without water there are no sewers. The people from the power plant have tried to maintain pressure in the boiler with coal coming from Breza. But the trucks are being shot up, so they stopped deliveries.”
Mr. Efendic, the Deputy Prime Minister, said 52 wounded and sick patients were killed when the rocket struck the first-aid center in Gorazde.
“We have thousands of people in Gorazde who are just like sacrificial lambs,” said Mr. Efendic, a former Mayor of the town. “Europe is responsible for this. It has tied our hands, and all that the rest of the world has done is watch. Perhaps they might just pray for us.”