The Siege of Mostar in 1993 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar was surrounded by the Croat forces for nine months, and much of its historic city was severely damaged in shelling including the famous Stari Most bridge.
Mostar was divided into a Western part, which was dominated by the Croat forces and an Eastern part where the Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was largely concentrated. However, the Bosnian Army had its headquarters in West Mostar in the basement of a building complex referred to as Vranica. In the early hours of May 9, 1993, the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) attacked Mostar using artillery, mortars, heavy weapons and small arms. The HVO controlled all roads leading into Mostar and international organisations were denied access. Radio Mostar announced that all Bosniaks should hang out a white flag from their windows.
The HVO attack had been well prepared and planned. The Croats took over the west side of the city and expelled thousands of Bosniaks from the west side into the east side of the city. The HVO shelling reduced much of the east side of Mostar to rubble. The JNA (Yugoslav Army) demolished Carinski Bridge, Titov Bridge and Lucki Bridge over the river excluding the Stari Most. HVO forces (and its smaller divisions) engaged in a mass execution, ethnic cleansing and rape on the Bosniak people of the West Mostar and its surroundings and a fierce siege and shelling campaign on the Bosnian Government run East Mostar. HVO campaign resulted in thousands of injured and killed.
Bosnian Army launched an operation known as Neretva 93 against the Croatian Defence Council and Croatian Army in September 1993 to end the siege of Mostar, and recapture areas of Herzegovina that were included in the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia.
The Croat leadership (Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Ćorić and Berislav Pušić) is presently on trial at the Hague Tribunal on charges including crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war.
Dario Kordić, political leader of Croats in Central Bosnia was convicted of the crimes against humanity in Central Bosnia i.e. ethnic cleansing and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Bosnian commander Sefer Halilović was charged with one count of violation of the laws and customs of war on the basis of superior criminal responsibility of the incidents during Neretva 93 and found not guilty.
In an attempt to protect the civilians, UNPROFOR’s role was further extended in May 1993 to protect the “safe havens” that United Nations Security Council had declared around Sarajevo, Goražde, Srebrenica, Tuzla, Žepa and Bihać according to its resolution number 824.