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Dubrovnik at Center of Latest Round of Yugoslav Fighting With PM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

October 19, 1991

ZAGREB, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Dubrovnik, a tourist paradise of medieval streets, good restaurants and top hotels, has been at the center of the latest round of fighting in Croatia’s bitter 3 1/2 -month-old civil war.

As part of an apparent strategy to seize large chunks of Croatian territory before the latest cease-fire takes hold, the Yugoslav army attacked Dubrovnik on Thursday from land, sea and air.

On Friday, city officials said the assault had let up but Dubrovnik was still surrounded, with army units only a few miles away.

Dubrovnik has been without fresh water, electricity, telephone or other communication links since the beginning of October, and food is in short supply.

The latest cease-fire, agreed upon at a peace conference in the Hague, Netherlands, is to start Saturday. Belgrade TV reported that the federal army responded to the truce agreement by halting the assault on Dubrovnik.

The fighting broke out in Croatia after the republic declared independence on June 25. Since then, more than 1,000 people have died and Croatia has lost one-third of its territory to Serb guerrillas and the army.

So far, the shelling of Dubrovnik has not damaged its historic center - one of the best-preserved medieval locations in Europe - and the army has said it does not intend to do so.

However, the army has acknowledged attacking the suburbs of Dubrovnik, damaging old and new marinas and some luxury hotels on the southern outskirts of the city.

Dubrovnik is the star attraction of a tourist industry that brought Yugoslavia $2.7 billion in 1990 but collapsed because of fighting this year. Because of the city’s historic significance, many people in Yugoslavia and abroad have appealed for its preservation.

But Ivo Jelic, Dubrovnik’s representative in Croatia’s parliament, thinks the concern may be focused too much on the city itself at the expense of its inhabitants.

Jelic left the city without his family on Oct. 5 to attend a legislative session in Zagreb. Unable to return because of the fighting, he has remained in the Croatian capital agonizing over the fate of the city.

Dubrovnik has few troops defending it, and even less clean water and food for the thousands of people who are stranded there, he said in an interview.

Jelic’s wife, Olga, managed to get out two days ago, but his 22-year-old son Hrvoje remains in Dubrovnik.

″My son received an egg as a present from a friend,″ Jelic said to illustrate the hardship. ″One egg. It was a big event for the family.″

In the rare cases when he has reached his son by telephone, Jelic said Hrvoje has told him that he spends most of his time trying to get food and water.

Refugees chased from neighboring regions have filled Dubrovnik’s tourist hotels. Since most water lines have been cut, Hrvoje’s family has been washing their dishes with water from the Adriatic harbor, Jelic said.

There is little fresh water to treat the wounded, he added.

Federal army reservists from neighboring Montenegro have moved from several directions to squeeze Dubrovnik. Montenegro’s government, allied with Croatia’s rival, Serbia, has presented a demand to renegotiate the Montenegrin-Croatian border.

Montenegro wants Croatia to give up its side of the entrance to Kotor, a strategically located bay 30 miles south of Dubrovnik.

Earlier this week, Croatia’s foreign minister, Zvonimir Separovic, declared the combination of military and political pressure ″scandalous″ and rejected Montenegro’s demand.

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