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Croatian Mothers Rally to Get Sons Out of Army

From Times Wire Services

About 10,000 mothers chanting “Serb army get out!” swarmed around a federal building Thursday demanding the release of their conscript sons from the Yugoslav People’s Army.

Women also held rallies in the federal capital of Belgrade and in the Croatian capital of Zagreb to protest the killing in Yugoslavia.

The federal army, with its Serb-dominated officer corps, has become increasingly involved in clashes between Croatian forces and armed Serb rebels.

More than 50 busloads of mothers from Croatia and the republics of Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina traveled to Belgrade to petition army generals to release their sons from service.

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But by late evening, no senior army official had talked with the parents.

More than 280 people have died in the Croatian republic since June 25, when Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from the Yugoslav federation.

Croatian and Serbian media said a tense calm prevailed in the besieged eastern Croatian town of Vukovar, on the border with Serbia, where much of the fighting has raged in past week.

About 3,000 Croatian policemen and members of the Croatian National Guard were believed trapped in Vukovar. They appealed for help but vowed “to defend our town,” they said in a message broadcast on Zagreb radio.

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In other events Thursday:

* European Community envoy Henry Wijnaendts, who visited Vukovar, accused the federal army of siding with Serbian rebels in their war with Croatia and said only foreign observers can guarantee peace in the republic.

* In Washington, the State Department said leaders of the Serbian republic and the Yugoslav military “bear a particular and growing responsibility” for the escalating violence in Yugoslavia. Spokesman Richard Boucher urged all parties to implement an unconditional cease-fire immediately.

* Television reports said there was small-scale fighting around Topusko, 27 miles south of Zagreb. There was no word of casualties.

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