Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gorazde Slaughter Is 'Hell, Horror and Terror'

SARAJEVO -- Efforts to ease the suffering of Gorazde disintegrated Wednesday in a morass of broken Serb promises, international indecision and deadly rocket fire on the city hospital.

"This is hell, horror and terror," said hospital director Dr. Alija Begic after the building took three direct rocket hits, killing at least 10 people.

"This is not war any more. This is slaughter, massacre," he said in a ham radio report monitored in Sarajevo.

Aid workers said at least eight other people were killed when a shell hit an apartment building next to the hospital.

The bombardment persisted despite agreement Tuesday by Bosnian Serbs on a cease-fire -- the third in recent days -- and a declaration of peace by their leader, Radovan Karadzic.

"The Serbian side unilaterally proclaims peace in Gorazde," the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug quoted him as saying. "With this, the Gorazde crisis comes to an end."

It was another humiliating blow for the United Nations, which has been helpless to halt a three-week Serb advance on the Moslem enclave, a so-called UN "safe area" 55 kilometers southeast of Sarajevo.

"The town is at their mercy," the UN commander in Bosnia, Lieutenant General Sir Michael Rose, told the British Broadcasting Corporation. "There is nothing we can do to sustain the fences of Gorazde."

Adding to UN embarrassment was the ease with which Serbs took back a tank from a Sarajevo weapons depot. They simply drove it away as UN guards watched helplessly.

That was a clear violation of NATO's February ultimatum that it would bomb any Serb heavy weapons not pulled away from Sarajevo or put under UN control.

NATO diplomats said Wednesday they were inclined favorably toward a UN request for broader use of air strikes to protect Gorazde and five other "safe areas" in Bosnia. But a spokesman said a final decision might take "a few days."

Two earlier NATO strikes only infuriated the Serbs. A third was thwarted when a British jet was shot down.

Officials said the second of three rockets to hit the hospital Wednesday struck the emergency room, killing 10 people and wounding 15. It was unclear how many casualties the other two rockets caused. A spokesman for the humanitarian group Medecins Sans Fronti?res confirmed the hospital mayhem.

"It's absolutely terrible," said the spokesman, Dr. Renaud Tockert, in Brussels, Belgium. "The hospital has been shelled several times."

The hospital is on the right bank of the Drina River, which divides Gorazde. Karadzic claims that area as Serbian by right.

Shelling also continued in the main part of town on the left bank of the Drina, which Karadzic has said the Serbs do not intend to capture.

"Our own people saw at least five shells impact in the city center," said spokesman Ron Redmond of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Geneva.

The deaths Wednesday put the casualty toll at well over 350 killed and more than 1,000 wounded.

Gorazde is home to about 65,000 people, many of them refugees now on the move in advance of the Serb assault.

Although it is a UN "safe area," UN commanders say they do not have enough peacekeepers to protect it.

Bosnia's minority Serbs launched the war in April 1992 when they rebelled against a Moslem-Croat vote to secede from Yugoslavia. Armed by the Yugoslav federal army, they have occupied 72 percent of the country.

More than 200,000 people are dead or missing in the conflict.