U.N. Calls for NATO Reconnaissance Flights Over Bihac Pocket
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ U.N. peacekeepers requested NATO reconnaissance flights today after Bosnian Serb rebels repeatedly shelled a U.N.-protected safe area.
But U.N. sources said no planes were sent because a communications mix-up delayed NATO’s response.
Despite the threat, Serbs continued their attacks: U.N. military observers said five shells struck the Bihac safe area at midday today, leaving a Dutch peacekeeper with head wounds and a local interpreter with back injuries.
Fifteen artillery rounds landed Sunday in the same safe zone, eight in the center of Bihac town near the main police station, said a U.N. spokesman, Maj. Herve Gourmelon. No casualties were reported.
The shelling of Bihac violates agreements over U.N. protected areas. A protest was made to the Bosnian Serb leadership, said U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko.
Ivanko said the peacekeeper commander in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. Rupert Smith, asked NATO to conduct reconnaissance flights to locate Serb weapons firing on the safe zone.
NATO sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated reconnaissance flights were still on the agenda today despite the communications mix-up. They refused to go into details, citing concern for the safety of the pilots.
In the northern part of the Bihac enclave meanwhile, rebel Muslims and Croatian Serbs continued an offensive today against government soldiers.
Skirmishes around Sarajevo and in the Majevica mountains of northeast Bosnia also increased overnight and early today, Gourmelon said.
The Bosnian government-controlled Bihac Press Agency said Serbs continued to shell Bihac today, with combat intensifying both around the town of Bihac and near the northern town of Velika Kladusa.
Ivanko said Smith was trying to set up a meeting with the Bosnian Serb commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, to discuss repeated Serb attacks on Bihac and other safe zones.
U.N. officials said Mladic had been dodging a meeting with Smith for two weeks.
A spokeswoman for French peacekeepers, Capt. Myriam Socachy, said snipers opened fire Sunday on worshipers entering and leaving a Roman Catholic church in Sarajevo, but no injuries were reported.
More than 200,000 people are dead or missing in the war, which began three years ago.