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Streetcars Run in Sarajevo for First Time in Two Years

March 8, 1994

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Reflecting a semblance of normalcy in war-torn Sarajevo, streetcars began rolling on ″Sniper Alley″ today for the first time in nearly two years.

Several elderly people waiting at Marijin Dvor station cried for joy at the sight of city streetcars running again.

″We are crying out of happiness. My heart is beating. I didn’t expect to survive to see something like this,″ said 61-year-old Emina Ostroski.

Ukrainian U.N. soldiers, who have been guarding crews repairing the streetcar lines in recent weeks, escorted the two streetcars on their trial runs today. If all goes well, regular runs are expected to resume soon.

In another development, Lt. Col. Alf Gorsjo, a spokesman for the U.N. Nordic battalion in northeastern Tuzla, said the United Nations took control of the airport from the Muslim-led government army at midday. About 480 Swedish and Danish U.N. soldiers rolled into the airport Monday.

Bosnian Serbs about six miles outside Tuzla but within shelling range reluctantly agreed a week ago to permit the United Nations to use the airport for relief flights like those that have kept Sarajevans fed since war broke out 23 months ago. The Serbs feared the Muslims would smuggle in arms through the airport.

U.N. relief officials say it would take a week to 10 days before the airport, about 50 miles from Sarajevo, was ready.

The Bosnian Serb news agency Srna quoted Radovan Kecojevic, a retired Yugoslav army explosives expert, as saying that the Tuzla airport was studded with mines and that its opening was ″a tremendous risk.″

Violence continued in Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia:

U.N. spokesman Maj. Jose Labandeira said three soldiers of the Muslim-led Bosnian army were wounded Monday in Sarajevo.

Morgue official Alija Hodzic today confirmed one Bosnian army soldier had died from wounds suffered Monday. He also said two soldiers wounded the past several days had died Monday.

At least one rocket-propelled grenade detonated Monday night at the Jewish Cemetery, site of a confrontation line between Bosnian and Serb forces.

Under NATO’s Feb. 5 ultimatum, Bosnian and Serb forces were to pull back all heavy weapons from around Sarajevo or put them under U.N. control. They do not include rocket-propelled grenades.

Bosnian radio reported continuing Serb attacks on the northwestern Muslim enclave of Bihac, scene of heavy Serb shelling in recent days.

The French U.N. battalion in the area reported Monday that a Serb T-55 Soviet-made tank shelled a building in Bihac, and ″the result was three dead and three injured people, all of them civilians,″ Labandeira said.

Alemka Lisinski, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Zagreb, Croatia, said a 10-truck convoy was on its way to the Bosnian town of Maglaj to aid its 19,000 inhabitants, who have been under Serb siege the past nine months.

On Monday, the United Nations declared the Croat-Muslim war in central Bosnia over.

Muslim and Croat officers signed maps of central Bosnia and the southern city of Mostar delineating truces over 180 miles of previously disputed territory.

In Belgrade, Charles Redman, the U.S. special envoy on former Yugoslavia, met with Serbia’s powerful president today to try to sell skeptical Serbs on a new Bosnia peace plan and seek land concessions for rival Muslims and Croats.

″We’re now at a very important stage of a process to try to put together something that would represent an overall settlement for Bosnia,″ Redman said.

Washington hopes Bosnian Serbs, considered the main aggressors in Bosnia’s war, eventually will join the peace plan.

About 200,000 people are dead or missing in the war that began April 1992 when Serbs rebelled against Muslims and Croats who seceded from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.