Bosnian Serbs Recapture Territory in Northwestern Bosnia
PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Serbs recaptured land in northwestern Bosnia today, chipping away at the government’s most stunning battlefield successes of the war.
The United Nations confirmed Serb military gains around the Bihac pocket, where Muslim-led government troops had gained ground in recent weeks. Serbs advanced 2 miles west from Bosanska Krupa toward the strategic Grabez high ground, said Maj. Herve Gourmelon, a U.N. spokesman.
The Serbs said they recaptured the village of Grabez, east of Bihac. A separate report carried by SRNA, the Bosnian Serb news agency, said Serb troops took a Muslim stronghold around the Ripac gorge, 5 miles southeast of Bihac.
There was no confirmation of either report.
The government recently gained hundreds of square miles of territory in the Bihac region and further south. On Thursday, the army and Bosnian Croat militias took Kupres, 50 miles west of Sarajevo, dealing the Serbs their biggest loss since the war began 2 1/2 years ago.
U.N. officials in Sarajevo today said the government army appeared to be pressing the Serbs in the northeastern town of Doboj close to the Serb-held corridor linking Serb holdings in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.
Government soldiers had gained up to two miles of ground but the Serbs were counterattacking, the United Nations said.
The army was also battling the Serbs south of Olovo, 30 miles north of Sarajevo, and on the Ternovo road southeast of Sarajevo, the United Nations said.
Although the Serbs still hold 70 percent of Bosnia, their battlefield reputation has been tarnished by the recent losses. They are also thought to lack fuel and other supplies since Serbia cut off its aid.
The Bosnian Serb assembly convened today in the Serb stronghold of Pale, outside Sarajevo, to discuss a response to the government’s battlefield successes.
On Tuesday, sniping and shrapnel killed five people and wounded seven as the increasing violence around the country spread to Sarajevo. It was unclear who carried out Tuesday’s attacks, but Bosnian Serbs have threatened to avenge battlefield losses by tightening their grip on the Muslim-held capital.
U.N. peacekeepers were the targets of nine attacks Tuesday. It was unclear who was responsible in most cases, but British peacekeepers blamed Serbs for one attack near the eastern Muslim enclave of Gorazde that slightly wounded two British soldiers.
The war started in April 1992 after Serbs rebelled against Muslims and Croats who voted to secede from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Some 200,000 people have disappeared or died.