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Serb Crowd Roughs Up U.N. Police

January 17, 1998

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ A Serb crowd attacked U.N. police and international officials trying to enter Bosnia’s Muslim enclave of Srebrenica on Friday, U.N. spokesmen said.

The incident occurred as members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a U.N. police escort attempted to accompany Muslim politicians to the city for the first meeting of a municipal assembly elected in September.

The mob stoned and spit upon the car carrying the acting head of the mission, Ambassador Richard Ellerkmann, and people tried to pull him from the vehicle, the OSCE said late Friday in Sarajevo, demanding an investigation and punishment of the perpetrators.

``Such deliberate and unwarranted attacks are inconsistent with the behavior found in a democratic country,″ the OSCE said. ``It is clear that the attack was carefully organized to prevent the installation of the elected assembly in Srebrenica.″

Serbs overran Srebrenica in July 1995. Thousands of men disappeared and are believed to have been executed. Muslim refugees now living elsewhere are registered to vote there, and Muslims won the local elections.

The local councils were to have begun meeting no later than Dec. 31, but Serbs resisted convening a municipal assembly in which Muslims hold the balance of power.

Andrea Agneli, a spokesman for U.N. police in Tuzla, said a Danish policeman serving with the U.N. force was hit by a rock.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York that some of the about 600 Serbs attacked even after the Muslims stayed back and only the smaller group of international officials tried to go in to assess the situation.

A car with a loudspeaker drove through the town on Thursday night, urging Serbs to turn out Friday, he said.

Also Friday, a helicopter flown by the NATO-led Bosnian peace force crashed near Screbrenica, injuring two U.S. soldiers on routine patrol.

Update hourly