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A Family’s Scramble for Life in Sarajevo With AM-Misery in Sarajevo, Bjt

January 15, 1994

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ In the upside-down world of Sarajevo, death has become the commonplace and life - preserved by courage, wits and luck - has become the event.

Some tales of survival, like that of the Muratovic family, are epics in miniature.

When the war came to the door of the dream house they had just built on a hill overlooking Sarajevo, Edin and Amela Muratovic fled with their little son Arman to her mother’s apartment in Dobrinja, a suburb near the airport.

It was a bad choice. Serbs virtually cut off Dobrinja and turned it into a shooting gallery. Because of stress and deprivation, Amela, pregnant with her second son, Eldin, began to bleed.

The Muratovics decided to return to the city, where doctors were available, but Amela’s condition made it impossible for her to take the safest way out: walking over a hill.

Instead, she braved one of the worst stretches of road in all Sarajevo - 500 yards exposed to Serb snipers hidden in buildings on both sides. Ambulances that had been shot up littered the street, bodies still inside.

Amela walked that road, pushing Arman in his carriage.

″I walked slowly so I wouldn’t provoke the Chetniks,″ she recalled, using local slang for the Serb fighters. ″I knew they were watching me. I thought I had a chance because I had Arman with me. But I had no choice, so I wasn’t afraid.″

Slowly, pregnant mother and baby son approached a barricade of wrecked trucks under the noses of the snipers.

″I wore sunglasses so I could glance to the sides without moving my head,″ she said. ″I pushed the carriage between two mines. I knew the Chetniks were in the house on the right, but I looked straight ahead.″

Edin, her husband, would not have had a chance on the street, so he had taken the safer route over the hill. All he could do was watch.

″There were 50 meters she had to cover, and both the Chetniks and I could see her,″ he said. ″I was waiting to see her come around the corner, but she didn’t appear for a long time. I heard shooting and I thought, ‘It’s over.’

″Finally she appeared. She walked slowly. At last they were behind her. I watched through my fingers, and sometimes I had to turn my head away. A minute was like a year.″

Amela was safe. But the family was not totally spared.

The next day, a shell hit their house on the hill, killing Edin’s father, who had stayed behind. Edin went back alone to bury him.

″The shooting was so bad that nobody dared to come to the cemetery and help me,″ he said.

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