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Federal Warplanes Attack Croatian Positions

From Times Wire Services

Croatian units blew up a key bridge Saturday and federal forces pounded Croatian positions from the ground and air as fierce fighting shattered the cease-fire established Aug. 7.

Two Yugoslav army jets attacked the police station and Croatian positions in the town of Stara Gradiska, about 75 miles east of Zagreb on the Bosnia-Herzegovina border, Croatian radio said.

The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said the jets retaliated after they were fired upon from Stara Gradiska. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the raid.

A military convoy including 23 armored vehicles, 11 trucks and three vans arrived in the town of Okucani where clashes between Croatian security forces and Serbian guerrillas continued Saturday, Tanjug said.

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Okucani was mostly under the control of ethnic Serb rebels after the clashes, which began late Thursday. At least two Croatian soldiers were reported killed and nine wounded. Tanjug reported that 25 people were injured or missing.

Okucani is nine miles north of Stara Gradiska, declared autonomous last week by local Serbs.

The air strikes and deployment of troops marked the federal military’s most direct intervention in Croatia since the cease-fire began, after battles that claimed more than 200 lives. At least 21 people have died since the cease-fire went into effect.

Yugoslavia’s collective presidency, headed by Croatia’s Stipe Mesic, called an urgent session Saturday in Belgrade to discuss the escalating violence.

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The presidency demanded an immediate end to the fighting.

“The cease-fire must be strictly respected, guarantees (regarding the separation of forces) given by all sides should be fulfilled,” said a statement from the presidency carried by Tanjug.

A Yugoslav cease-fire monitoring team left Belgrade Saturday for eastern Croatia. Other groups are scheduled to leave today, Tanjug quoted Dragan Musulin, deputy head of the presidency’s information service.

Hundreds of peace activists marched Saturday in Zagreb and Belgrade with petitions appealing for an end to the violence.

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Tanjug said Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met with some marchers and signed their petition. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic did not meet with the protesters and sent an envoy, who declined to sign the petition.

Police in Sisak, south of Zagreb, reported that the mutilated bodies of five Croats were found near the village of Bjelovac. They said the Croats, who had been feeding cattle, were killed by Serbian guerrillas on Friday.


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