Serbs Shell Bosniak Evacuees, 1 killed and 21 wounded
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p.A4
25 March 1993.
“U.N. helicopters swooped into Srebrenica to fly Bosniak refugees to safety yesterday, but the operation was halted after Serbs shelled some of the refugees as they waited in a soccer stadium.
The attack killed one person and injured 21, including two Canadian peacekeepers, U.N. officials said.
They said 29 people, including women, children and the wounded U.N. soldiers, were flown out before flights were stopped.
In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali deplored the casualties and called for an immediate halt to the shelling. Brigadier Roddy Cordy-Simpson, the chief of staff of the U.N. force in Bosnia, called the attack “the ultimate in despicable behavior.”
Bosnian Serb military commanders issued a statement accusing the United Nations of trying to infiltrate soldiers into Srebrenica to “save Muslim criminals.” It also accused U.N. soldiers of firing at Serb positions to provoke shelling.
Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader who approved the U.N. flights, also said Serb forces were not responsible. He accused Bosnia’s Muslim-led government of firing at the landing site then blaming it on the Serbs.
The shelling of the landing zone and also the Tuzla airport, where the helicopters are based, called into question Karadzic’s assurances that corridors would be opened to evacuate Srebrenica. Many such promises by Bosnian Serb political leaders have been ignored by their military forces.
Bosnian Serb militiamen appear intent on capturing Srebrenica, where tens of thousands of Bosniaks are trapped and being shelled.
If Srebrenica falls, the Muslim-dominated Tuzla region could be the next target of a Serb drive that has taken 70 percent of Bosnia’s territory since the war began 11 months ago over the republic’s secession from Yugoslavia.
In other developments:
Fighting around Sarajevo, the capital, abated after several weeks of heavy battles in the western suburbs. An international airlift was suspended for a fifth day, however.
The United States and its NATO allies sent the United Nations their plan for militarily enforcing a no-fly zone over Bosnia if the Security Council should order one. Karadzic has threatened to leave peace talks in New York if the council takes such an action.
For a third consecutive day, Russia delayed a Security Council vote on the flight ban. President Boris Yeltsin supports the no-fly zone, but some Russian lawmakers who are trying to oust him accuse him of kowtowing to Western influence and abandoning Russia’s Orthodox Slav Serb brethren.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany decided to join the nearly month-old U.S. airdrop operation in eastern Bosnia and to sent paramilitary patrol boats to the Danube to monitor the U.N. embargo against Serbia.
The decisions mark the deepest involvement by German forces in the Balkans since World War II.