Bosnian Army Fights On As Alliances Crumble, Talks Falter With AM-Yugoslavia-What Next?, Bjt
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Poorly equipped and trained, Bosnian forces have been hammered by their heavily armed Serbian foes during 10 months of warfare. Now, the predominantly Muslim military is also fighting on a second front, against its former Croatian allies.
But far from admitting the battle for an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina is lost, army officers say resolve is stronger than ever. The Bosnians’ will to fight may be their best weapon.
Clashes along a myriad of front lines, plus renewed Serb-Croat fighting in neighboring Croatia, have defied efforts by international mediators in Geneva to negotiate an end to the Bosnian carnage that has killed left at least 18,000 dead and more than 100,000 missing.
The talks broke down Saturday because of Muslim and Serb refusals to accept a peace plan. Mediators said they would ask the U.N. Security Council to impose a solution.
Jovan Divjak, Bosnian army deputy commander and a Serb, called the Geneva talks ″a theater of shadows.″ Reflecting a common feeling, he rejected the proposed partition of Bosnia into 10 provinces as ″no solution.″
Indeed, there is a widespread view that the division proposed at Geneva has only encouraged turf battles by all three sides in the war: the Bosnian army, Serb militias and Croat forces.
″It’s obvious problems are not being solved in Geneva but by arms on the ground,″ said Kemal Muftic, top aide to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.
Despite its determination, the Bosnian army - Muslims, Serbs and Croats fighting together in government-controled cities such as Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica - remains hopelessly outgunned.
From perches overlooking Sarajevo, U.N. military observers chronicle the inequity.
One January day, they counted 47 artillery and 10 tank rounds from the Bosnians, compared to 852 artillery and 81 tank shells fired from Serbian positions. The next day, they reported no shells fired by the Bosnians, and 27 artillery, 116 mortar and 67 tank shells from the Serbs.
″The Serbian side have a lot of weapons, they can shell as they want,″ said Cmdr. Alejandro Luis Chiaruttini, a U.N. military observer.
″The situation for the Bosnians is much worse,″ he added. ″Obviously they don’t have many heavy weapons in the city, they’re having to move weapons around.″
Mustafa Hajrulahovic, army commander for Sarajevo, said his forces had planned attacks in the first months of war just to capture weapons.
Some small arms are smuggled into the city, but Hajrulahovic said ammunition and heavy weapons are still lacking.
With most of Bosnia’s arms factories now in Serb-held territory, home-grown weapons experts try to even the odds.
A ″Special Purpose Products″ brigade, headquartered in an unmarked Sarajevo restaurant, organizes arms production in about 30 small workshops and larger factories around the besieged capital.
When war began, they made rifle-launched Molotov cocktails from beer bottles and mortars from drainpipes. Now rifle-launched grenades fashioned from 41mm caliber scaffolding tubes look more professional.
Workshops have supplied 35,000 of those grenades, which have a range of 320 yards, 100 Komarec, or Mosquito, missiles, and even an 880-pound rolling bomb nicknamed mujahedeen - the Muslim term for ″holy warriors,″ said Luksa Soljan, the brigade’s deputy commander.
Ingenuity, determination and an infantry advantage are among the reasons Sarajevo has not fallen.
″One side has the guns, the other side has the men,″ said Squadron Leader Carl Harding, a U.N. military observer in the city. ″Until something in that ratio changes, neither can win.″
What the Bosnians really want are the big guns they are banned from getting by a U.N. arms embargo against all former Yugoslav republics. The Serbs are using arms left them by the Yugoslav federal army.
″We don’t need military intervention, we just need the embargo to be lifted,″ said Hajrulahovic. ″Even animals have the right to self-defense.″
Mediators in the Geneva talks said their plan set out a sovereign Bosnia partitioned into 10 autonomous provinces that would not be drawn along ethnic lines. But their map immediately sparked new battles for territory.
The worst of these rages around Gornji Vakuf in central Bosnia. The fighting started when Bosnian Croats attacked Muslims and demanded that Bosnia’s army take orders from the local Croatian Defense Council.
The Bosnian Serbs, meanwhile, have stopped insisting on a separate state, but are holding out for a supply corridor linking Serbia with Serb-held territories in Bosnia and Croatia.
Battles occur daily around this corridor, with Bosnian forces and Croats - still allied in that region - seeking to disrupt supplies to Banja Luka and Knin, the Serbs’ military capitals in Bosnia and Croatia respectively.
Neither side can hold the corridor because the forces are too close to balanced, a U.N. miltiary analyst said on condition of anonymity.