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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Berates Moslems Over Looting

SARAJEVO -- The United Nations attacked Bosnia's Moslem-led government Friday for failing to curb looting and intimidation of Serbs in a Sarajevo suburb returned to Moslem-Croat control this week. Thousands of youths have invaded the Ilidza district of the Bosnian capital since Tuesday, intent on driving out Serb residents who have not already fled.


UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said police of the Moslem-Croat federation appeared "indifferent" to the chaos, and to preserving law and order.


"Two federation policemen were seen laughing and encouraging Moslems when they were verbally insulting Serbs and trying to force them to leave their houses," he added.


Ilidza was a Serb nationalist redoubt and a key element in the 3-1/2 year siege of Sarajevo until the Bosnia peace agreement last year halted the fighting.


Some Moslems, the main victims of the war, have found it hard to contain retaliation for their suffering since regaining control of Serb sectors of the city, but Ivanko warned that their behavior reflected badly on the federation.


"The United Nations is concerned and even puzzled by the attitude of the federation authorities towards preserving a multi-ethnic society in Bosnia," he told reporters.


"We hear numerous statements advocating a multi-ethnic Bosnia but when it comes to reality, flood-gates are opened and gangs are allowed to terrorize people with impunity as has happened in Ilidza in the last 72 hours.


Ilidza was the fourth Serb suburb in Sarajevo to be handed to the federation under the peace agreement. The fifth, Grbavica, will be relinquished by the Serbs on Tuesday.


Although the campaign of intimidation in Ilidza was reported to be abating, Ivanko said most of the remaining 10,000 Serbs in the five suburbs now wanted to leave.


"They put their faith in the federation and the federation abandoned them," he added.


Most Serbs have already left the inner city district of Grbavica amid a spate of looting and arson intended to leave the federation with a blackened shell to rebuild.


International administrator Carl Bildt of Sweden was abused by Serb civilians when he walked through the area, from where Serb snipers mowed down scores of Moslems during the war.


"Why have you come, just to see us depart from our beautiful city," a woman selling cigarettes hissed at Bildt. "You've come to expel us."


The difficult transition in Sarajevo and in Mostar, where Moslems and Croats coexist uneasily, prompted Big Power mediators to summon Serb, Croat and Moslem leaders to Geneva on Monday to keep the peace process on course.


The military side of the peace deal, including the deployment of more than 50,000 U.S.-led peacekeeping troops, has gone smoothly, but the implementation of political commitments been less successful.


Around 30 countries met in Turkey on Friday to discuss military help for the Moslem-Croat federation in building up its armed forces to match the Bosnian Serb Army, or BSA.


The BSA held military sway across much of Bosnia for most of the war but is dependent on help from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who has thrown his weight behind the peace accord.