Balkan Update

April 16, 1993

Local commanders barred the United Nations from evacuating hundreds more Muslims from SREBRENICA, and insisted that wounded soldiers be flown out first. Only five elderly women left in the convoy. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs reportedly launched a heavy artillery and infantry assault on the enclave.

Severe fighting was reported across BOSNIA despite the three-week-old cease-fire. "The cease-fire is not dead, but we are skating on very thin ice," said U.N. spokesman Cmdr. Barry Frewer. "Multiple violations suggest it is getting very fragile. The situation is volatile in many areas."

Croatian milita spokesman Veso Vegar, speaking from Croat-controlled MOSTAR, said Muslim forces attacked their nominal allies and captured four Croat villages in the region and razed one of them, Buscak.

Cedric Thornberry, deputy chief of the U.N. Protection Force in former Yugoslavia, said Serb and Muslim military leaders planned to meet in SARAJEVO today to discuss restoring peace to Srebrenica. The Muslims have shunned two earlier meetings.

International mediator Lord Owen said there was a danger Russia might arm the Serbs if the U.N. arms embargo was lifted for Bosnia's Muslims. "That is what they have effectively threatened to do if the arms embargo is lifted," he said in a LONDON interview.

Yugoslavia's Tanjug news agency reported a massacre of 17 wounded Bosnian Serb rebels by Muslim units in eastern Bosnia. There was no independent confirmation of the BELGRADE report.

A report by a team of U.S. experts released by the State Department in WASHINGTON suggested tough military measures to silence Serb heavy artillery and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies to towns like Srebrenica. If acted on, the report would imply a deeper U.S. military role in the conflict than the Clinton administration has been willing to contemplate.

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