Rebel Serb gunners blasted central Sarajevo with artillery, mortars and rockets, hitting two hospitals and a string of shops and offices in some of the worst fighting yet in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
"There's shooting from all sides with every kind of weapon. There are lots of fires in the city center, and the sky is lit up almost like daylight," reporter Zlatan Cabaravdic said late Saturday.The Serbs rebelled when the Balkan republic's majority of Roman Catholic Croats and Moslem Slavs voted for independence in March, breaking with the state of Yugoslavia, set up in 1918.
Serb gunners in mountain strongholds above Sarajevo hit the railway station, telephone exchange and two hospitals, wounding five patients and a nurse, local reporters said Saturday.
At least 10 people were killed and 20 wounded in Sarajevo. Battles also flared near the historic Adriatic port city of Dubrovnik, killing one Croatian soldier and wounding two.
The Marshal Tito Barracks, taken over by Moslem militias Friday, was ablaze in the heart of the city. A large department store and the headquarters of a major Bosnian trading company were also on fire, they said.
Thousands of men, women and children are trapped in the city, site of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Food and medicine are running low, and much of their time is spent huddled in basement shelters.
"We're in prison. We don't know what will happen in the next five minutes," said Rusmir, contacted by telephone in the heavily bombed Dobrinje district.
The latest heavy fighting erupted Friday, just as U.N. peacekeepers struck a deal with Serb irregulars to hand over Sarajevo airport so that relief supplies could be flown in.
The peacekeepers set up headquarters in Sarajevo this year for 14,000 U.N. troops deployed in the neighboring republic of Croatia, which declared independence from Yugoslavia last June and was the scene of months of heavy fighting.
But U.N. control of Sarajevo airport and relief supplies for the 300,000 people still in the city, now appear dependent on securing a cease-fire among the warring factions.
That could take some time if the fighting persists; and residents said food, water, medicine, electricity and telephone services were deteriorating.
"My husband goes out and buys bread when it's possible, but people don't venture out anymore. They can't take it any more," said Razija, a Sarajevo resident contacted by telephone.
"Rockets come from all sides - we don't even know from what direction - and then sudden explosions," she added. Her district still houses Serbs, Croats and Moslems.
More than 5,700 people have been killed, 22,000 wounded and 1 million made homeless in the past three months in Bosnia, the latest killing ground as Yugoslavia breaks up.
The Serbs, 30 percent of Bosnia's 4.3 million people, are fighting to stay in the new, smaller Yugoslavia, now composed of only two republics, Serbia and Montenegro. Four others have seceded - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia.