Serbs Advance, May Cut Off Sarajevo Airport


Using powerful tank units that had been hidden from U.N. weapons monitors, Serbian militia forces Tuesday bombarded Bosnian government positions near Sarajevo airport and advanced on a key suburb from which they could cut the airport off from the city center.

Heavy fire from a column of 10 Serbian tanks systematically razed houses in the government-held western suburb of Azici, while another 10 tanks massed in a Serbian-controlled district southwest of the city pounded government positions around the airport and bombarded civilian targets in downtown Sarajevo as well.

It was the second consecutive day that heavy weapons the Serbs had pledged to place under U.N. surveillance had emerged from hiding to attack Sarajevo's Muslim Slav-led defenders and batter civilian neighborhoods in and around the city. In the past 24 hours, nearly 30 Sarajevo residents have been killed and more than 170 wounded by Serbian fire.

The two days of shelling, the most intense this city has seen in weeks, began just 48 hours after the leader of Bosnia's separatist Serbian faction, Radovan Karadzic, declared that all Serbian heavy weapons in the Sarajevo area had been concentrated at specific sites under U.N. surveillance.

U.N. officials have said that the hundreds of Serbian artillery and tank shells that rained down on the city Monday came from both U.N.-monitored gun positions and from weapons that the Serbs had deliberately hidden from international observers.

One high-ranking U.N. officer said it was clear Karadzic had lied when he said all Serbian heavy weapons had been made available to neutral observers.

Military analysts said the Serbs' offensive--their first here since they enveloped Sarajevo in a siege five months ago--could provoke a confrontation with U.N. troops who have a mandate to use whatever force necessary to transport food and medicine from the airport to the city's beleaguered civilians.

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