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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serb Arms Violations May Draw Air Strikes

SARAJEVO -- Some Serb heavy weapons remained within a UN exclusion zone Wednesday, a day after French peacekeepers fired on one gun targeting civilians.


A UN spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, said NATO air strikes remained a threat against heavy guns that violate a 20-kilometer no-weapons zone around Sarajevo.


But he said there "is no specific deadline" for ultimate removal of the guns.


Meanwhile, in a letter to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi on Wednesday was reported to have expressed "utter dismay" at the expulsion of more than 2,500 Moslem civilians from northeastern Bosnia in recent days.


On Tuesday, a French armored personnel carrier posted on a bridge in Hrasnica, a suburb near the Sarajevo airport, fired 40 rounds from its 20 millimeter gun on a Bosnian Serb gun said to have been firing on civilians.


The Serbs stopped firing, but it was not known whether anyone was wounded or whether the gun was destroyed.


UN officials say they believe there are about half-a-dozen Serb guns violating the exclusion zone imposed last February.


In his letter complaining about the Serbs' mass evictions, Akashi said:


"I wish to convey to you my utter dismay at the fact that, in the past few days alone, over 2,500 Moslem civilians have been forcefully expelled from the area of Bijeljina and Janja.


"Able-bodied men are separated from their families and detained by your authorities," he said. "Many of those vulnerable people expelled were apparently robbed and abused en route by criminal elements led by a man known as 'Vojkan.'"


That was an apparent reference to Vojkan Djurkovic, named by many refugees as a main organizer of the expulsions.


Akashi warned that those responsible for expulsions could be subject to prosecution by a war-crimes tribunal set up by the United Nations.


The UN airlift to Sarajevo resumed Wednesday after it was suspended Tuesday because a plane was hit by a bullet. Nineteen flights were scheduled.


But Bosnian Serbs continued their shutoff of electricity, water and gas to the city of 380,000 for the eighth day.