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Serb War Crimes Suspect Kills Self

October 13, 2000

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ A Serbian war crimes suspect detonated a hand grenade during an arrest attempt in Bosnia, killing himself and wounding four German soldiers from the NATO-led peace force, NATO and the war crimes tribunal said Friday.

Janko Janjic, 43, ignited a grenade as troops tried to seize him Thursday night in the Serb-held border town of Foca, 25 miles southeast of Sarajevo.

None of the soldiers was critically wounded, officials said.

Janjic is the third suspect charged with war crimes in Bosnia to die while resisting arrest by international troops dispatched to the area after the 1995 Dayton Agreement to end the war in the former Yugoslavia.

It was the first time, however, that peacekeepers suffered casualties in an arrest attempt, said Paul Risley, a spokesman for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

``NATO deeply regrets the loss of life as well as the injuries,″ NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said.

The soldiers were from a specially trained German unit in the Foca area, which is under the control of the German contingent, the German Defense Ministry said.

Janjic, who vowed never to be captured alive and always carried a grenade with him, was severely injured and died soon after detonating the weapon, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said.

Soldiers did not fire during the arrest attempt, NATO officials in Brussels said.

Foca Police Chief Zoran Mandic said soldiers used explosives to blast open the door to Janjic’s brother’s home, where Janjic was staying.

Oliver Janjic, the suspect’s brother, sustained minor injuries in the explosion. Police found him and his two daughters tied up and masked, Mandic said.

His wife, Nada, fainted from the blast and was detained for an hour at a nearby military camp, he said.

The chief war crimes prosecutor in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, praised the troops for their courage. ``We share a sense of regret that the attempt ended in tragedy,″ she said.

Making arrests ``continues to be a dangerous business. The events of last night only underscore the necessity that those who are publicly accused must voluntarily surrendered at the earliest possible date,″ she said.

Janjic was one of four Bosnian Serb subcommanders indicted for the torture, rape and enslavement of women and girls in Foca in the summer of 1992.

A car mechanic before the war, Janjic was involved in the Serb attack on Foca and its surrounding villages as well as the arrest of civilians. He became one of the subcommanders of the Serb military police and a paramilitary leader in Foca.

Three other Bosnian Serbs went on trial in The Hague in March for the Foca atrocities in the first attempt by an international tribunal to prosecute for wartime sexual enslavement.

The tribunal has issued public indictments against 94 alleged war criminals and secret indictments against others. Twenty were safely arrested by the peacekeepers and extradited.

Three others were violent during arrest attempts, Risley said.

A suspect was killed in 1997 as he reached for his gun and a man was shot trying to run a roadblock in 1998. In a third incident, a suspect fired a bullet that lodged into a peacekeeper’s armor and did not wound him, Risley said.

Update hourly