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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shots Reported in Sarajevo Suburb

SARAJEVO -- A rocket-propelled grenade exploded while two children were playing with it Friday, killing one and seriously injuring the other, officials said.


The NATO-led peacekeeping force and UN police monitors said they were investigating reports that Serbs and Moslems may have traded fire just outside Sarajevo, which would be a serious violation of the Bosnian peace accord.


A UN official reported the fire exchange. But Major Peter Bulloch, a NATO spokesman, later said there was no confirmation of the firing and no reports that anyone had been hit.


Both incidents were reported in Grbavica, the former Serb suburb which was turned over to the Moslem-Croat federation March 19.


Officials at the State Hospital confirmed that 12-year-old Mirza Juhic died when the unexploded grenade exploded near Zeljeznicar Stadium in Grbavica. His 10-year-old friend was in surgery with serious injuries.


UN police complained earlier Friday that federation police still refused to cooperate with them and threatened to seek economic sanctions against the Moslem-Croat federation in retaliation.


For the third day, the international force complained that federation police were failing to comply with the Dayton peace accord. In contrast, it said, cooperation with the Bosnian Serb police force is "very good.''


The UN force, comprising 750 unarmed officers, is supposed to monitor freedom of movement, respect for human rights and day-to-day operations of the local police to ensure they meet international police standards.


After four years of war, the presence of UN monitors was considered crucial to restoring a sense of fair treatment and security for Bosnian civilians. The lack of cooperation by federation police raises questions about their motives.


In the latest incident, federation police allowed international monitors to visit a Bosnian Serb interpreter for the UN force Thursday, but only "under very restrictive conditions,'' according to UN police spokesman Alexander Ivanko. The UN officers were not allowed to see the interpreter alone, or to discuss the reasons for his arrest.


Federation police arrested the interpreter March 12 and held him for 11 days before UN police learned of his detention from his wife.


Ivanko complained that the UN police were always getting "the runaround'' when seeking access to detainees.


"Whenever we try to gain access, we're sent to see a judge. When we see a judge, the judge tells us, well you can't see a detainee until the investigation is finished. This has happened on a number of occasions,'' he said.


UN Police Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald met Friday with federation Justice Minister Mato Tadic. Ivanko said Fitzgerald reiterated that UN police have the right under the peace accord "to visit any detention facility, and any detainee at will, without asking for prior approval and without supervision.''


If federation authorities continue balking at cooperation, Fitzgerald will ask High Representative Carl Bildt, who is overseeing civilian implementation of the peace agreement, "to apply political and, if needed, economic pressure, including restrictions on the allocation of reconstruction funds,'' Ivanko said.


With two international police monitors watching, Bosnian Serb police conducted a reconstruction Thursday of the alleged planting of a land mine by three Bosnian Moslems. Jasmin Sljivo, one of the three, later claimed on Bosnian Serb television he participated in mass killings and rapes while a member of a Bosnian army unit led by a warlord.


But the circumstances of Sljivo's comments and questions about his age raised serious doubts about the veracity of his story. The Serbs said he was 25, but his parents said he just turned 20. That would have made him only 16 or 17 at the time he was supposed to have committed the crimes.