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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serb Soldiers Seize Bosnia Peacekeepers




SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Yugoslav forces illegally crossed into Bosnia on Wednesday and detained six soldiers of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the country, the peacekeepers said Friday.


The Stabilization Force, or SFOR, said in a statement that its soldiers were taken into Yugoslavia, interrogated and held for about eight hours before being released unharmed.


However, a spokesman later said in an interview that some of them had been "mistreated" and were released with "minor bruises," although they were otherwise in good condition.


Colonel Lee Hockman said 15 to 20 Yugoslav soldiers had detained the SFOR reconnaissance patrol at gunpoint about two kilometers inside Bosnian territory, describing it as a "serious incident."


Hockman said the SFOR soldiers had been "heavily outgunned and outmanned" and had not resisted. Hockman declined to reveal the nationality of the SFOR soldiers, who had been riding in a vehicle when they were captured.


"No shots were fired," he added.


The incident occurred Wednesday evening near Rudo, an eastern Bosnian town on the border with Serbia, some 70 kilometers east of Sarajevo.


"An SFOR reconnaissance patrol was illegally detained and disarmed by military forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," an SFOR statement said. "The forces of the FRY had illegally entered the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The SFOR soldiers were taken into the FRY, interrogated and held for about eight hours before they were released unharmed."


SFOR, whose 32,000 soldiers from 25 countries secure peace in Bosnia, said the violation of Bosnia's territory was a breach of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the country's 43-month war.


Even though the border where the incident took place was not very well defined, Hockman said there was no doubt the Yugoslav soldiers knew they were in Bosnia. He said the peacekeeping force would not tolerate similar incidents in the future, saying its soldiers would use force if necessary to turn back Yugoslav soldiers who entered Bosnia.