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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serb Missile Attack Kills Bangladeshi

SARAJEVO -- The United Nations on Tuesday condemned an attack that injured five Bangladeshi peacekeepers in northwest Bosnia, but said the local commander's request for NATO air support had been denied.

The wounded men were taken to a U.S. military field hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. One of the peacekeepers, who had been critically wounded, died Tuesday morning, a hospital official reported. He was identified as Private Hassain Ismail. The soldier had brain injuries, lost a hand and was blinded in both eyes.

"The attack on the Bangladeshi soldiers is one of the most flagrant and calculated assaults on UNPROFOR to have taken place in the history of this peacekeeping operation," UN spokesman Michael Williams said at headquarters in Zagreb, referring to the UN protection force in the former Yugoslavia.

Two anti-tank missiles struck the peacekeepers' armored personnel car as it emerged from their compound in the embattled town of Velika Kladusa inside the Bosnian Moslem enclave of Bihac on Monday. The first missile hit the front of the car and set it on fire. The soldiers got out of the vehicle and tried to put out the fire, but came under small arms and sniper fire. They crawled under the burning car, only to be fired at with another missile, which caused the most serious injuries.

Williams blamed the attack either on Croatian Serbs or on allied renegade Moslem forces, who are fighting Bosnian government forces in northwest Bosnia.

Lieutenant Colonel Jan-Dirk von Merveldt, a UN spokesman in Sarajevo, said UN officials have warned the Bosnian Serb army officials of "consequences" of further attacks. However, he said the local Bangladeshi commander's request for NATO air support of his troops had been turned down.

As peacekeepers came under fire in Bosnia, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said U.S., French and British defense officials were trying to salvage the UN mission because a withdrawal would raise the specter of a bigger war.

"The three of us believe it is important to find a way of preserving UNPROFOR," Perry said on his way to a meeting of NATO defense ministers to take place in Brussels on Wednesday. Pressure for the removal of the peacekeepers has grown in the face of increasing Serb harassment.

Perry said alliance members are being forced to reconsider some year-old ideas to shore up the role of the peacekeepers. These include a proposal to establish a heavily fortified corridor to ship humanitarian supplies between the Adriatic and Sarajevo as well as plans for the UN force to give up guarding some sites and consolidate in others in order to improve its "rather diffused" deployment arrangement, which has left small clusters of UN peacekeepers vulnerable to hostage-taking, Perry said.

As Perry spoke, Moslem leaders were gathering in Morocco for a summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic conference, to endorse a new Bosnian strategy which hints at defiance of a UN arms embargo. They declared the ban on arms for Bosnia null and void and said their governments would now act on that basis.

(Reuters, AP)