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SERBS LINING UP TO LEAVE DIVIDED CROATIAN TOWN

SHARE SERBS LINING UP TO LEAVE DIVIDED CROATIAN TOWN

Milan Besaric hasn't seen his mother nor heard news of his father since a surprise Croatian offensive forced Serbs in this divided town into their biggest surrender to their foes.

On Wednesday, 15-year-old Milan tearfully joined 158 Serbs in a U.N.-organized convoy of buses, cars and tractors across the Sava River to Serb-held northern Bosnia."I hope to see my mother there. . . . She just fled into Bosnia when the Croats came," Milan said. "And my father was taken away by the (Croatian) soldiers for questioning and still hasn't come home."

As many as 4,000 Serbs snared in this town and the surrounding area by the surprise offensive are lining up to leave, fearful of their future under Croatian rule.

The Orthodox Christian Serbs and Roman Catholic Croats share the same language. But their differing religions, alphabets and histories tear them apart in a welter of ways.

The Croatian fascists' mass murder of Serbs in World War II, for instance, fueled fears and suspicions stoked by Serb nationalists before war erupted in 1991 over Croatia's secession from Serb-led Yugoslavia.