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U.N. reports Croats open fire on Muslims, one dead, about 40 wounded

February 10, 1997

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Croats opened fire on Muslims visiting a cemetery in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar today, a U.N. official said. Authorities reported at least one person dead and 39 wounded.

The shootings on a Muslim holiday occurred after days of increased tensions in Mostar, which was the scene of bitter Croat-Muslim battles during Bosnia’s civil war.

Although Muslims and Croats are allies in the Bosnian federation, the city is divided along ethnic lines and international monitors have been unable to reduce the hostility, which has included recent explosions and expulsions.

U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko said Muslims were visiting a cemetery when they were confronted by Croats.

``The Croats started stoning them, and then opened fire with weapons,″ Ivanko said.

He said at least four people were hurt but Nedzad Imamovic, a doctor in the hospital on the Muslim east side of Mostar, reported a 64-year-old man dead and 21 wounded, four of them seriously.

On the Croat side, police chief Marko Radic said 18 policemen were hurt there, three seriously.

A U.N. refugees agency spokesman in Mostar, Sivanka Dhanapala, said the shooting apparently took place in the western, Croat-controlled part of the city.

Croats and Muslims fought a year-long war in 1993-94, but ended it and formed a federation under U.S. pressure. Under the Dayton peace agreement, the federation controls 51 percent of Bosnia; Serbs control the remainder.

International officials condemned today’s violence.

``This is murder, and must be treated as such,″ said Carl Bildt, the international official overseeing the Bosnian peace plan. ``We will demand that those responsible for these brutal acts are identified, arrested, and brought to trial.″

He appealed for calm. ``Do not let the extremists destroy the peace that you can build together,″ he said.

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