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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnian Serb Clash Averted

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Police backing war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic confronted those supporting his rival before NATO-led troops convinced them to disperse, international officials said Wednesday.

The near-clash Wednesday morning reflected months of tension between backers of Karadzic and supporters of President Biljana Plavsic, who has the West on her side in her efforts to weaken her former mentor.

The West hopes that it would be easier to force a weakened Karadzic to stand trial in front of the UN war crimes tribunal, in The Hague, Netherlands.

The standoff lasted for several hours before both groups dispersed early Wednesday morning. The NATO-led Bosnian peace force subsequently set up a checkpoint in area of confrontation, west of Derventa, 80 kilometers east of Banja Luka.

According to the United Nations international police force, the incident began when approximately 300 police officers from Banja Luka moved toward Derventa. Police from Doboj, about 30 kilometers to the south also started out for the town.

Banja Luka's police are loyal to Plavsic, who controls the western part of the Bosnian Serb republic.

The 100-strong Doboj police force sides with backers of Karadzic in Pale. Their police chief told UN police that the rival police force was apparently on its way to Doboj to take over his police station.

The United Nations criticized the foray by the pro-Plavsic police, some of them armed with rifles and other long-barreled weapons prohibited under the Dayton peace accord.