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Business as Usual for Hotel Staff During Attack

May 15, 1992

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Cannon and rockets sounded in the background, but waiter Srecko Jevtovich did not falter as he wove through the Hotel Bosna’s restaurant, a tray of steaming goulash soup held aloft.

The Hotel Bosna and its staff of about 30 are in the Serb-held western Ilidza suburb of Sarajevo, an area targeted by grenades and machine gunfire from the city’s mostly Muslim defenders.

The Bosna, where Hapsburg Archduke Francis-Ferdinand slept the night before his assassination - the event that led to World War I - has become one of the nerve centers for Serb militias surrounding Sarajevo.

The Bosna took at least five direct hits Thursday, the neighboring Srbija Hotel at least three. One shell sent glass crashing into a Bosna hotel room being used by the British Broadcasting Corp.

The Serb response was massive. Artillery pounded the 1984 Winter Olympic city for nine hours. Tanks rumbled out of the Yugoslav army barracks. At least two Muslim-held districts were reportedly laid to waste, and bitter street fighting was reported.

Serbs ordered the handful of reporters still in Sarajevo, all at the Bosna, to remain inside for their own safety.

Fighting died down by afternoon. But a grenade fired by predominantly Muslim defenders of the city fell into a group of Serb fighters just outside the hotel, killing one.

Other Serb militiamen brought in dead and wounded killed in the earlier fighting. They declined to give a casualty figure.

Gun-toting militiamen, some sporting battle scars, relax in the lobby. Tanks maneuver past colorful flower beds outside. Some hotel staff don uniforms after work and go out on patrol. Alcohol is banned in the hotel to help maintain discipline.

Shortly after the dawn salvo erupted, Kovilka Skolic, a hotel maid, huddled on the hotel stairs with 25 of the staff’s children.

The hotel, a curious mix of imperial Austrian architecture and 1960s Socialist kitsch, has no cellars for shelter.

Waiters, desk clerks and maids have been living at the hotel for a month.

″We can’t go home, most of our homes have been bombed,″ she said. ″I’ve nowhere to go.″

All non-Serb employees were dismissed from the Bosna last week.

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