Senior Bush administration officials said the United States has reliable information that up to 3,000 Muslims were killed in May and June at Serb-run detention camps near Brcko, about 75 miles north of Sarajevo, the New York Times reported in today's editions.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that reports had been received of up to 2,000 people killed in Serb camps. But the official said the State Department would not make an announcement until the casualty toll could be confirmed. Meanwhile in Bosnia-Herzegovina, U.N. envoy Cyrus R. Vance said Friday that the situation was "worse than expected" in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka, where Muslims fear they will be the next victims of "ethnic cleansing."
Vance and European Community envoy Lord Owen toured Banja Luka in northern Bosnia on Friday to investigate reports of ethnic evictions. On the road into Bosnia's second-largest city, crowds of Serbs lined the roadsides, some applauding and flashing the three-finger Serbian victory sign.
But Muslim leaders said they told Vance and Owen all was not well in Banja Luka and that they feared for their people.
Vance later said the visit confirmed that "ethnic cleansing" was going on in the northern region.
The New York Times' report, which cited unnamed U.S. officials, said interviews with survivors and other sources indicated that Serb forces killed large numbers of Muslim men, women and children after occupying Brcko.
Bands of Serbs went through the town detaining Muslims, who were held in several centers where they were beaten and tortured, the newspaper reported officials said. Up to 50 people were killed at a time and their bodies were secretly disposed of at night, the report said.
The information was turned over to the United Nations, according to the report.