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SERBS KEEP PEACEKEEPERS DESPITE VOW TO FREE THEM

SHARE SERBS KEEP PEACEKEEPERS DESPITE VOW TO FREE THEM

Refusing to cancel their insurance policy against further NATO bombings, Serbs kept tight hold over 349 U.N. peacekeepers Tuesday despite earlier pledges to set them free.

But Serbs yielded to U.N. pressure to allow food and fuel to reach Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. Scuffles broke out Tuesday as 96 tons of food, fuel and winter gear rolled into the town of 50,000 people.A second convoy was on its way to Goradze, another Muslim-held town in eastern Bosnian that is running desperately low on vital supplies. The convoy was awaiting clearance in Serb territory.

"This is the first encouraging sign from the Bosnian Serb side in many weeks," said Kris Janowski, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which organized the convoys from Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital.

The U.N. commander in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, tried again to secure the release of peacekeepers when he met Monday night with the Bosnian Serb deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Milan Gvero.

But a Bosnian Serb demand that NATO promise no airstrikes against Serb positions is "completely unacceptable," a U.N. spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"We do not do deals over the lives and welfare of our peacekeepers on the ground," spokeswoman Claire Grimes said in Zagreb, Croatia.

On Sunday the Serbs released 53 Dutch and British peacekeepers stopped during previous U.N. efforts to bring relief to Srebrenica and Gorazde.