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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Keenly Observes Bosnia's Latest Truce

VITEZ, Bosnia -- A British assault vehicle roared down the main street of Vitez in central Bosnia on Friday and took up position between Moslem and Croat combatants as a country-wide truce went into effect.


The Scimitar fighting vehicle churned past barricades of trucks abandoned in the road to block deadly sniper fire, spewing mud from its metal tracks.


"It's the last chance for peace to be settled here," said Marinko Palavra, 32, a local commander of Croat military police in Vitez, as the British vehicle clanked into town against a background noise of continued small arms fire.


"The mistrust is big, but if the cease-fire has been signed we must obey it and hope" the Moslems "will obey as well."


A cease-fire between Moslem-led government forces and rebel Croats in Bosnia went into effect at noon Friday. British peacekeepers headquartered in Vitez are monitoring compliance with the pact in the center of the country.


The United Nations reported 24 violations, mostly small arms fire,in Vitez in the first two hours of the agreement.


British Forces are spread thin on the ground in the area, with just nine armored vehicles monitoring the truce along the main highway from south of Gornji Vakuf to the outskirts of Zenica, a distance of about 60 kilometers.


UN officials said Moslem and Croat commanders in central Bosnia were "cautiously pessimistic" about prospects for the cease-fire, but soldiers on the ground pledged to follow orders.


Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, commander of Bosnian Croat forces in the Lasva valley said all his soldiers had been issued with copies of the cease-fire and instructed to respect it.


"If the cease-fire works it may be war-weariness that makes the difference rather than goodwill," said one UN official. However, Moslem soldiers in front-line trenches between Travnik and Vitez were skeptical about the cease-fire.


"I doubt there will be peace," said Ahmed Begonovic, 32, as he leaned against a bathtub perched on the lip of the trench to protect him from Croat snipers 200 meters away.


"This is not the first cease-fire. The Croats have been shooting at us even since noon. Of course if they do stop shooting we will respect the agreement as well."