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SERBS DECLARE INDEPENDENCE IN BOSNIA AS CIVIL WAR LOOMS

Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina made a virtual proclamation of independence Friday and a strategic town was engulfed in violence, edging the ethnically volatile republic toward civil war.

A Muslim leader urged the immediate deployment of U.N. military observers.A European Community plan to keep Bosnia whole but decentralized appeared to have foundered after Bosnia's self-proclaimed Serbian parliament adopted a constitution for Serb-dominated regions.

"Civil war has entered Bosnia-Hercegovina . . . through a gate opened by this state's political leadership," Bosnia's Serbian Democratic Party said in a statement.

Analysts fear a war pitting Bosnian Serbs against Croats and Muslim Slavs could be much bloodier than the war in Croatia, which began in June and claimed as many as 10,000 lives. A U.N. truce in place since Jan. 3 has limited further bloodshed in Croatia.

Radio Sarajevo, in Bosnia's capital, quoted local officials as saying artillery fire killed two people and wounded eight in the town of Bosanski Brod on Friday, bringing the death toll to 30 in three days of ethnic clashes around the town on the Croatian border. Thousands were reported fleeing the town.