Second Sarajevo breadline massacre, Serb attack kills 15, injured 30
By John Pomfret
The Daily Gazette
31 August 1992, p.A1,A3
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A howitzer shell crashed into a crowded marketplace Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens in one of the bloodiest single attacks during the Serbs’ siege of Sarajevo.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting around Gorazde forced U.N. officials to delay plans to dispatch an aid convoy.
Serbs announced Saturday they were lifting their five-month siege of the city southeast of Sarajevo.
“It appears to be extremely dangerous,” said Fred Eckhard, chief spokesman for U.N. operations in former Yugoslavia. He said the convoy might leave on Wednesday.
Gorazde, as the lone government holdout against Serb insurgents in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been an emotional symbol of the war that began when the majority Bosniaks and Croat voted for independence from Yugoslavia on Feb. 29. As many as 100,000 people have been trapped there.
U.N. officials condemned the attack in Sarajevo. Eckhard suggested Serb forces may have fired on the market purposely.
More than 30 people were wounded when the 105mm howitzer shell exploded in the market. The casualty toll was the worst since May 28, when mortar rounds killed at least 20 people in a bread line and wounded 100.
That attack prompted the European Community to impose trade sanctions on Serbia, which it accused of supporting Serbs fighting to carve their own state from part of Bosnia.
U.N. sanctions on Serbia-dominated Yugoslavia followed on May 30.
The shell hit as Bosnian loyalists continued an offensive aimed at breaking through Serbs forces encircling Sarajevo in the surrounding hills.
Rescue workers slung bodies into pickup trucks parket on blood-stained ground. Wounded survivors screamed out for family and friends as they milled around the stalls.
The deaths soured hopes that agreements reached last week in London at an international peace conference would reduce violence in teh 6-month-old war.
At least 8,000 people have died in the war, and U.S. Senate investigators put the figure at up to 35,000.
In Sarajevo, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard suggested the artillery round was fired from Serb positions.
“It would be nice if we could turn ourselves into a police force and run up into the hills and grab those people and arrest them and bring them to justice,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
“All of us at the U.N. are extremely frustrated,” he said. “We would love to arrest the people in the hills [Serbs] that committed this atrocious act.”
“Each side has promised they would stop the fighting. But it just doesn’t stop,” he said.
Eckhard planned to viit Gorazde on Monday, along with a 14-truck convoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Confusion remained about the situation in Gorazde.
Sarajevo radio said Bosnian government troops had entered the city, lending some credence to Serb claims Saturday that the Serbs were pulling back men and artillery. But the report also said the loyalists fought their way in.
“Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces have liberated Gorazde after several days of fierce fighting on the left bank of the Drina River,” said the radio report. “Eighty percent … has been liberated.”
The leader of Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, told The Associated Press that Bosnian government troops, mostly Bosniaks [Muslims], had exploited the pullback of his soldiers.
Karadzic’s pledge to pull back from Gorazde appeared aimed at demonstrating Serb commitment to the London accords. Previous promises by the warring parties have not been kept.
Even as Karadzic spoke, however, the Belgrade, Serbia-based Tanjug news agency reported that erbs in southeasstern Bosnia had banned the return of thousands of Croat and Bosniak refugees. Bosnian Serbs denied the report.