Wounded Sebrenica Fighters Doubt Muslims Will Surrender Weapons With PM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
ROBERT H. REID
Apr. 20, 1993
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Wounded Muslim fighters evacuated from Srebrenica say they doubt their comrades in the besieged enclave will surrender their weapons - especially to the Serbs.
Under an agreement signed Sunday by Serb and Muslim leaders, the Srebrenica area will be demilitarized and those who want to leave will be provided transport to safety.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said Muslim fighters will be allowed safe passage if they surrender their arms.
Jakub Salihovic, 35, wounded in the arm last Saturday, said, ''If the Serbs give up their weapons, we will give up weapons. Our commander told us the last man will die fighting.''
Several of his comrades, all seated on beds in a hospital here, nodded in agreement Monday.
''We will not give up our weapons to the Serbs,'' said Selim Hasanovic, 25, who fled to Srebrenica last March when Bosnian Serbs overran his village, Vlasenica. ''We will give our weapons to the U.N. if they man the positions facing the Serbs. Then they will be with us.''
A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said Bosnian Serbs have suggested that under the rules of war they had the right to accept the weapons.
But United Nations presumes the weapons would be handed over to about 140 Canadian troops, armed with light weapons, who have been deployed to Sebrenica as a buffer between the two warring sides.
Ismat Becirovic, 52, said he doubted his comrades would lay down their arms ''as long as civilians and wounded fighters remain in the city.''
Privately, some U.N. officials expressed concern whether the local Muslim leaders, especially military commander Naser Oric, will abide by terms of the Srebrenica agreement.
The 26-year-old Oric, a former bodyguard of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, has a ''Rambo'' reputation among his troops.
One of the wounded said Oric was slightly wounded in the leg last week, but he was said to have taken the fragment out of his leg himself, refusing medical treatment.
In Tuzla, those with slight wounds are housed on small wooden beds lined up in the basement of an unfinished building of the hospital complex. Despite the bravado of their words, all appeared somber after weeks of harrowing combat.
Several complained that the Serbs were better armed and supplied and that ammunition was running dangerously low on the Muslim side.
''At last I can breathe freely again,'' said Senahid Alic, 31, whose wife and three children were killed in the shelling. ''Because of the Serbs and the shelling, there is no water, no electricity, nothing in Srebrenica.''
The agreement also provides for the airlifting of an estimated 500 wounded.
Other civilians will be asked if they want to leave. Those who do will be taken out by U.N. convoys. There are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 residents and 60,000 refugees in Srebrenica.
Bosnian Muslim authorities are reluctant to allow an exodus for fear it will further Serb ''ethnic cleansing'' - the effort to create areas of Bosnia that are exclusively Serb by forcing all others out.
If the cease-fire holds, they may discourage Muslims from leaving.