Defying own truce call, Serbs shell Sarajevo

January 09, 1994|By New York Times News Service

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Hours after unilaterally declaring a cease-fire, Bosnian Serbs resumed their shelling of Sarajevo's airport yesterday, preventing Bosnia's Muslim president from attending peace talks in Germany with the president of Croatia.

The cease-fire had been called by the Bosnian Serbs after the United Nations Security Council issued a statement late Friday condemning the Serbs, Muslims and Croats for the recent surge fighting in Bosnia. It particularly condemned the Serbs' "relentless bombardment" of civilian targets in this besieged city last week.

Sarajevo's airport, a lifeline for food and medicine, has been closed since Wednesday, when Serbian shells landed on the tarmac within 100 yards of cargo aircraft, U.N. officials said.

Bonn, an international mediator said that the peace talks would take place today, provided that President Alija Izetbegovic could leave safely from Sarajevo on a U.N. plane to meet with Croatia's president, Franjo Tudjman.

The negotiations, originally scheduled for yesterday, are intended to halt clashes between the Muslim-led Bosnian government army and Croatian militias in central Bosnia.

The airport is also scheduled to reopen this morning for the arrival of Yasushi Akashi, the special representative of U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for brief talks with Mr. Izetbegovic.

"It's a courtesy call," a U.N. spokesman said in Sarajevo last night. "But it's a critical time." Mr. Akashi had previously been the secretary general's representative in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, at least six people were killed and 31 were wounded in Sarajevo yesterday as a result of renewed Serbian shelling and sniper fire, officials said.

More than 50 civilians in Sarajevo are confirmed to have died last week in the Serbian shelling, the worst in the capital in months.

Explosions resounded from the southern Grbavica section of the city in the early morning, and shells fell sporadically throughout central Sarajevo all day.

Just before noon, shrapnel from a shell wounded at least seven )) people waiting in a water line.

"All of our operating rooms are working at full capacity," said the director of Kosevo Hospital, Dr. Naim Kadic.

In announcing a cease-fire, the Bosnian Serbs had not said when it would take effect or how long it would last.

Most Sarajevans obeyed Bosnian government warnings to stay off the streets yesterday.

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