SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Battles raged across the city Thursday, and the Bosnian government said Serb forces were trying to hide heavy artillery from U.N. inspectors by withdrawing it to their headquarters.
Despite the fighting, Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, co-chairmen of an international peace conference on the breakup of Yugoslavia, still planned to come to this besieged capital Thursday by land, U.N. spokesman Yusuf Khalef said.Meanwhile, France rejected claims by Bosnian officials that their forces were not responsible for an attack on a U.N. convoy that killed two French soldiers and wounded five Tuesday. French Defense Minister Pierre Joxe repeated a demand that Bosnian authorities identify and punish the attackers.
A statement from Bosnia's Muslim-led government Thursday claimed Serb troops were moving artillery from the Ilidza and Lukavica barracks in western Sarajevo toward their base at Pale, 12 miles east of the city.
Several buildings, including a high-rise, were said to be ablaze in the suburb of Dobrinja near the withdrawal route and at least two people were reported killed.
Bosnian loyalists were trying to intercept the weapons being moved over Trebevic mountain, south of the city, the government statement said. It gave no details of the type of artillery the Serbs were purportedly removing.
Vance and Owen gave Bosnian Serbs until noon Saturday to submit tanks, rocket launchers and heavy artillery and mortars to U.N. supervision. Serb leaders pledged to have the weapons collected at monitoring points around the city by Thursday.
But Brig. Gen. Hussein Aly Abdulrazek, U.N. commander in Sarajevo, said Wednesday he was not optimistic.
"We are having some difficulties," he said, adding that the main hitch was defining what types of weapons came under U.N. supervision.
The United Nations wants to take charge of mortars and artillery with calibers of 82mm and above, while the Serbs want the cutoff point set at 105mm.
U.N. peacekeepers hope that by monitoring heavy weapons, they can reduce the bombardment that has ravaged Sarajevo the past five months and killed thousands.
Serb forces shelled Dobrinja throughout the night with 205mm shells.
The French soldiers shot Tuesday were hit when machine-gun fire raked a U.N. convoy driving into the Sarajevo airport.