Serbian warplanes defy Bosnia's no fly zone, 3 children dead and 10 wounded
Manila Standard, p.7
12 October 1992.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Warplanes took to the skies over Bosnia in apparently open defiance of a United Nations ban while civilians were trapped by fighting in the north of the republic and shelling claimed new victims among the children of Sarajevo.
Government-controlled Bosnian radio on Saturday reported fierce air attacks by Serb planes on the besieged Bosniak-held town of Gradacac which if true made a mockery of a ban on military flights decided by the Security Council on Friday.
It said they were “the heaviest attacks on Gradacac since the start of the war… the whole town is demolished and still burning.”
But the Serbian army in Bosnia quickly issued a denial.
“Allegations of Serb air force actions are aimed at provoking foreign military intervention,” an army statement said.
Independent confirmation was impossible but journalists in north Bosnia heard the sound of aircraft amid the cacophony of battle although the planes could not be seen due to overcast skies.
North Bosnia was ablaze with fighting and Serbian hopes that the fall of Bosanski Brod on Tuesday would secure a vital supply corridor were dashed.
Thousands of civilians, who had hoped the corridor linking Serbia proper with Krajina in the west was safe, were trapped by pitched battles between Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats.
In Sarajevo, mortars killed three children and wounded 10 who were playing in a square in the Mejtas district above the old town in a square bounded by residential buildings, a Catholic church and a mosque, witnesses said.
The casualties ranged in age from four years to 16. All were taken to nearby Kosevo hospital where doctor Mufid Lazovic described it as the wort day of the war for him.
“There were so many children who arrived at once, some already dead, some badly wounded,” he said. “It was very, very difficult.”
An earlier report by Bosnian television that the casualties occurred when bombs hit an orphanage was not true.
In the midst of a day of fighting, shelling, conflicting reports and general chaos, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said that hostilities between Serbs and Croats had stopped.
“Hostilities between Serbs and Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stopped although no ceasefire agreement has been signed,” Karadzic said in Geneva where he is participating in a peace conference on the former Yugoslavia.
It underlined Karadzic’s thesis that Serbs and Croats who want to divide Bosnia along ethnic lines have common enemy in the Bosniaks, who want a unitary state.
But the Bosnian Serb army said it was waging fierce battles with Croat and Bosniak forces around Mostar, the main city in the Herzegovina region bordering Croatia.
The war in Bosnia began after its Serbs rebelled against international recognition of the republic as an independent state and occupied some 70 percent of its territory.
Croats control most of the rest of Bosnia, while the Bosniaks – the republic’s largest ethnic group – hold only central Sarajevo and a few other isolated pockets.
In neighboring Serbia, political tensions rose ahead of a referendum on Sunday that will decide whether the republic will hold early elections, a move opposed by its hardline president Slobodan Milosevic and his ruling Socialist Party.