Sarajevans Await NATO Planes As Air Strike Deadline Looms With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
Feb. 21, 1994
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Naida Muslibegovic wasn't taking any chances. She moved Sunday from her apartment near the front lines to her mother's home downtown.
Like other Sarajevans, the 20-year-old kept busy preparing enough beans, water and warm clothes to last 48 hours. Her greatest fear wasn't the threat of a NATO air strike on the Serbs ringing the Bosnian capital, but the Serb retaliation that a bombing raid could spark.
''Serbs are very smart, and somehow I admire them, as much as I hate them,'' she said. ''I feel that they are preparing something.''
But as the 1 a.m. NATO deadline for the Serbs to pull back or put their weapons under U.N. control passed, U.N. envoy Yasushi Akashi announced that the Bosnian Serbs had complied to the extent that there would be no immediate air strikes.
The city was quiet after the deadline except for the drone of a single jet and an American C-130 Hercules which flies daily over Sarajevo to look for weapons.
A loudspeaker near Sniper Alley broadcast a news report about the deadline expiring. After the report, it switched to rock music.
Most Sarajevans, who live without electricity, were asleep when the deadline expired. For those still awake, government television broadcast a music video featuring Bosnian special forces training for urban warfare.
The refrain went ''put a smile on your face, it's not a sin to die for this city.''
Some Sarajevans earlier Sunday took food, blankets and other supplies to special shelters. Others took no special precautions, believing that NATO's threat to bomb Serb positions if they don't remove their heavy weaponry would become just another broken promise in efforts to end the city's 22-month siege.
''It seems like a fairy tale that the U.S. and NATO planes could come tonight and blast the monsters off the hills,'' said Adnan Voljevica, 27, who planned to be on duty all night at Civil Defense Headquarters.
Taking advantage of warm, clear weather that was melting the heavy snow in the streets, people stocked up during the day on firewood and other supplies, often using sleds to haul their goods.
At least 16 elderly people moved into an underground cave that had been spruced up into a cafe called the Toplik before the war. Four pool tables serve as beds in the unheated shelter.
Civil Defense officers brought a barrel with water and detergent in case of chemical warfare to clean off chemical agents.