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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Moslem Woodcutters Killed In Tense Bosnia Border Zone

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Police said Friday that two Moslem woodcutters were shot and killed in an ambush near the former front line with Serbs in an incident that could sharply raise tensions in Bosnia.


Four other men originally reported missing in a statement by the Interior Ministry of the Moslem-Croat federation were later found safe, a United Nations official said. The NATO-led peace force and international police in Sarajevo said they were investigating the report.


"We've been notified of the incident by the local authorities and we are checking it," said Liam McDowall, a spokesman for UN police monitors. "These are very serious reports."


U.S. and Russian soldiers of the peace force were on the scene, said UN police official Andrea Angeli in nearby Tuzla.


Such acts of violence are an indication of the hostilities that are preventing quicker implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, and can quickly lead to more violence. They can hamper efforts to send refugees home, one of the main provisions of the Dayton agreement.


A federation statement said unidentified gunmen opened fire on a group of Moslems traveling on a tractor, killing two and wounding one.


It identified the two dead men as Hazim Cajlakovic and Rasim Bilalic, and the wounded man as Asim Bilalic.


Angeli said the four other Moslems who were reported missing had fled the area, and had since been found.


The shooting took place in the four-kilometer demilitarized zone between the Bosnian federation and the Serb republic, which makes up the other 49 percent of Bosnia.


It happened near Laze, about 90 kilometers northeast of Sarajevo, which officials said was a Serb village that fell under Bosnian federation authority under the Dayton peace agreement.


The statement said one Moslem was killed near the same village last year, and demanded "urgent and energetic measures" to protect civilians.