"Srebrenica is Burning", 18 April 1993
Serbs launch deadly new attack on Srebrenica
Shells rain and dozens die even as negotiators hammer out terms of Bosniak enclave’s surrender
SARAJEVO, Bsonia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnian Serb forces launched a fierce attack Saturday on doomed Srebrenica, killing or wounding dozens of people even as the two rival military commanders tentatively agreed on a cease-fire.
At their first meeting in the year-long war, the two negotiated what could effectively amount to the surrender of the mainly Bosniak enclave by the Muslim led Bosnian government.
As shells continued to rain down on the eastern town, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic promised “a peace initiative which will be hard to refuse,” the Belgrade-based Tanjug news agency said.
Elsewhere, at least 50 people were killed in the fourth day of Bosniak-Croat clashes in central Bosnia, U.N. officials said in Zagreb, Croatia.
Srebrenica’s nearly 60,000 residents and refugees lived through another day of horror, covering in cellars as the Serbs closed in on their town. Serb forces shelled the industrial zone and post office where a small U.N. contingent is based.
At least 20 people were killed and 30 wounded in Srebrenica as Serb tanks and infantry advanced, Hajrudin Avdic, a city official, said by ham radio to Zagreb. U.N. officials said at least 12 died and 17 were wounded, but acknowledged those figures were incomplete.
Dozens of dead and wounded were lying in the streets, with rescue impossible because of “a hail of grenades,” Avdic said.
“Srebrenica is burbing. Every seven seconds a shell lands,” Bosnian radio later quoted him as saying.
His report could not be independently confirmed.
“There is no sign that the fighting will stop. People are hiding in their cellars. Many of the wounded cannot reach the hospital because of the fighting,” said a ham radio operators monitored in Tuzla, 45 miles north-west of Srebrenica.
Fighting started at around 3 a.m., he radioned. U.N. officials reported a late afternoon lull, but ham operators reported heavy shelling again in the evening.
About 300 people, many of them refugees from Srebrenica, staged a night rally in Tuzla, chanting “We won’t let the Serbs take Srebrenica!”
Capturing Srebrenica would give Serbs control of almost all eastern Bosnia.
Bosnia seceded from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia in February 1992. Serbs fighting the secession have seized about 70 percent of the country, and more than 134,000 people have been killed or are missing.
Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander, and Gen. Sefer Halilovic, the Bosnian government commander, agreed in principle on a cease-fire to take effect at midnight (6 p.m. EDT) in Srebrenica, U.N. spokeswoman Shannon Boyd said at the talks at Sarajevo airport.
Mladic appeared buoyant, though he reiterated on Belgrade radio Saturday that his forces did not want to take Srebrenica. Halilovic was grim; he previously had pledged not to meet his Serb enemy unless attacks on Srebrenica ceased.
The cease-fire would coincide with the start of Orthodox Easter, the Serbs’ holiest holiday. Karadzic summoned Serb journalists to his headquarters in Pale, southeast of Sarajevo, for the occasion. Russian parliamentary deputies also were on hand.