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Jets Hit Croatia Village; Peace Talks Collapse

<i> From Reuters</i>

Two Yugoslav air force jets fired rockets at a Croatian village Tuesday, and peace talks collapsed in Belgrade, shattering hopes of ending weeks of ethnic bloodshed in breakaway Croatia.

One person was killed and at least six people were wounded when the jets blasted a school, a health clinic and a house in Kostajnica, about 40 miles south of the republic’s capital, Zagreb, witnesses said.

Police said the jets also dropped bombs and that up to 3,000 Serbian guerrillas were closing in on Kostajnica. But a witness said the jets attacked with rockets and machine guns only after they were fired upon from the ground.

In separate clashes, Croatian national guardsmen shot dead two youths who failed to stop at a roadblock in the southern Croatian village of Zmajevci, and a Serbian militiaman was shot dead in the village of Skradin, Tanjug news agency said.

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In Belgrade, the collective state presidency’s efforts to end the fighting between rival Serbs and Croats that has killed almost 100 people in the last two weeks collapsed when President Stipe Mesic stormed out.

Mesic, Croatia’s representative on the eight-member presidency, opposed the appointment of Vice President Branko Kostic, a Serbian ally, as the head of a special commission to supervise a cease-fire in Croatia.

He later said the attack on Kostajnica and maneuvering by the rival republic of Serbia to secure Kostic’s appointment threw doubt on the whole peace process.

“Today Kostajnica was bombarded. I hear they bombarded a clinic and a school and, it seems, a kindergarten,” Mesic told Croatian television.

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“This means the situation is qualitatively changing. I do not know if it is possible to negotiate when one side . . . does not want the problem internationalized.”

Mesic said Serbia wants to block a mission by three European Community ministers which the presidency agreed should proceed on Saturday to help find a way to peace.


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