U.N. peace bid gets under way in Yugoslavia

March 09, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Only hours after the deadliest violation of a 2-month-old cease-fire, an Indian general and three dozen administrators arrived in Yugoslavia yesterday to launch Europe's first U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar told journalists at Belgrade airport that he and other senior officers for the 14,000-troop deployment would not be deterred by the latest outbreak of violence.

The U.N. mission, delayed for months by disputes among the Yugoslav combatants and by concerns about its $634 million annual cost, got under way as the federal army and Serb guerrillas resumed heavy artillery attacks on the eastern Croatian city of Osijek.

Seven people were killed and 30 were wounded in the overnight shelling from Serb-held positions, according to Croatian media. It was the most serious rupture to date of the relative peace restored to Yugoslavia by a U.N.-brokered truce that took effect Jan. 3.

General Nambiar met with Yugoslavia's acting defense minister, Gen. Blagoje Adzic. Today, General Nambiar planned to set off for Zagreb to work out with Croatian and federal army officials where the first contingent of peacekeepers was needed most.

By mid-April, the United Nations will scatter its forces along a 350-mile front line between Croatian national guardsmen fighting for independence and Serb rebels backed by the federal army in their demands to remain aligned with Serbia in the Yugoslav federation.

U.N. soldiers from more than 30 countries are expected to undertake the dangerous task of disarming hundreds of thousands of gun-toting guerrillas and civilians, as well as overseeing the withdrawal of tens of thousands of federal troops from Croatia.

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