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Military Warns of ‘Tense, Deteriorating’ Situation in Bosnia

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

Bosnian Serb soldiers attacked U.N. peacekeepers in Gorazde, and U.N. military observers warned Saturday that the Muslim enclave was tense.

Highlighting the fragility of an agreement that averted NATO air strikes, U.N. officials said British soldiers fought a gun battle with Serbian troops Friday southeast of the town, a quarter of a mile inside Gorazde’s 1.9-mile exclusion zone.

As many as three Serbs were killed. There were no British casualties.

A Danish tank squadron also reported a 90-minute exchange of shellfire with Serbian artillery near Tuzla, another Muslim enclave. No casualties were reported.

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A U.N. source said Serbian and Muslim soldiers clashed near an ammunition factory just outside Gorazde, which is crowded with 60,000 people, mainly Muslim refugees, but he did not give details.

The United Nations has said it is satisfied with Serbian compliance after NATO gave the Serbs two deadlines for withdrawing from Gorazde.

But a report from local U.N. aid workers said military observers were continuing to find military equipment “in violation of the NATO ultimatum.”

An eight-man British U.N. patrol came under fire Friday afternoon while on patrol near Gorazde, said Cmdr. Eric Chaperon, a U.N. spokesman in Sarajevo. They returned fire and tried to withdraw.

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Chaperon said Serbs followed the patrol and fired on it again before the British peacekeepers successfully withdrew while returning fire.

A British spokesman at the U.N. base in Vitez said it was being treated as an isolated incident. He said there was no request for air support.

“The situation has been characterized by the (military observers) as tense and deteriorating,” a local U.N. report said.

Near Tuzla, northeast of Sarajevo, officials said seven Danish Leopard-type tanks came under heavy artillery attack late Friday.

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The tanks returned fire with at least 70 shells during a 90-minute exchange, said Maj. Carson Rasmussen, commander of the squadron.

Meanwhile two dozen people wounded in the civil war were flown from Sarajevo to Brussels for urgent medical treatment. The wounded included Emira Dizdarevic, 9, who has a shell splinter lodged in her brain.


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