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Serb Army Barracks Damaged, Civilian Casualties Reported

September 6, 1995

LUKAVICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Shattered glass and a broken waterworks was about the extent of the damage shown to reporters by Bosnian Serbs after NATO warplanes hit this southern Sarajevo suburb.

But terrified civilians _ mostly women, children and the elderly _ packed into a basement shelter said their houses had been seriously damaged and they feared more fighting to come.

``The bombs fell all around us, and there are no military targets there,″ said one woman, Raika Batinic. ``Children keep crying and they cannot sleep here.″

Reporters in Pale, the Bosnian Serb stronghold southeast of Sarajevo, were bused to nearby Lukavica for a three-hour organized tour just hours after Tuesday’s NATO strike.

Windows were shattered at a Serb army compound and a nearby university building, but no major damage was visible and no smoke or fire could be seen. Only a few dozen soldiers emerged when reporters arrived at the compound; some were seen making repairs.

``It was horrific. The whole region shook,″ said one soldier, Nenad Skrba, of Tuesday’s bombing. ``I heard several jets flying over, and three huge explosions followed.″

Skrba and his fellow soldiers said the bombs hit several ammunition depots only few hundred yards away and a nearby command post. But like in other wars, military targets hit are off limits to reporters.

The bombings, which resumed Tuesday and continued today, have been aimed at destroying Serb heavy artillery besieging the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, as well as at important communications and radar sites. They were prompted by Serb shelling of Sarajevo on Aug. 28, which killed 38 people and wounded dozens.

Bosnian Serb media reported serious damage and confirmed U.N. reports that the Serb-held radio and TV tower at Stolice, on the Majevica hills east of Tuzla, had been hit.

That NATO attack destroyed television relays and cut phone lines between eastern and western parts of Serb-held territory and with Serbia. It also disrupted lines used by western TV stations to file footage to their headquarters from Serb-held Bosnia.

The strikes also have sent Serb civilians in Lukavica into shelters and left them without water, as the bombs have partly damaged the water system.

In the basement of the university building, Nada Kulina, 60, said several people in her neighborhood were wounded in last week’s airstrikes and that her house was almost destroyed.

No casualties were reported in Lukavica on Tuesday. But a Serb report said one civilian was killed in another Serb-held Sarajevo suburb, Hresa, when a warplane missed a nearby military target and hit a civilian building.

Serbs said privately they fear that NATO attacks may encourage Bosnian government forces to launch an offensive on weakened Serb lines to try to break the 3 1/2-year-old stranglehold of Sarajevo.

``They’re very close,″ Skrba said, pointing to the Mojmilo hill overlooking the area where Bosnian army troops are stationed.

Batinic, the woman in the shelter, lived in downtown Sarajevo but came to Lukavica in 1992, at the beginning of the war. ``If the fighting starts, I’ll have to leave my home again,″ she said. ``I can’t do it again.″

Update hourly