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Abdic broke with the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo last fall and reached his own peace accord with the Serbs. Bosnian Serbs have supported his troops with artillery fire this week, U.N. officials said.

"This is clearly the major (cease-fire) violation in Bosnia-Herzegovina," said Maj. Eric Chaperon, a U.N. spokesman in Sarajevo. He said the warring sides elsewhere in Bosnia were mostly observing a monthlong truce that took effect last Friday.

After making some gains, Abdic's fighters appear to have suffered setbacks in a government counteroffensive, and government troops have taken as many as 300 prisoners in recent days, Chaperon said.

There were also some reports of civilians being rounded up by Abdic loyalists. A U.N. relief agency spokesman, Peter Kessler, said local U.N. workers were getting reports that hundreds of men, women and children were being held at a chicken farm.

There have been persistent reports that citizens remaining loyal to the Sarajevo government are being threatened by Abdic backers.

Abdic was not a party to last week's cease-fire agreement signed in Geneva, and it was unclear how his fight with government forces might affect the overall truce.

Chaperon said U.N. observers believe that Serbs supporting Abdic forces would stop fighting if the Muslim-Muslim conflict eased.

The monthlong cease-fire is intended to give negotiators breathing space to work on a settlement of Bosnia's 26-month-old war, which has left at least 200,000 people dead or missing.