Facebook Twitter

FAILURE TO ORDER AIRSTRIKES BRINGS BOSNIAN PROTEST

SHARE FAILURE TO ORDER AIRSTRIKES BRINGS BOSNIAN PROTEST

The Bosnian government protested to the United Nations for failing to order airstrikes when Serb shells slammed into the center of the Gorazde "safe area," killing three girls.

Last month, after Bosnian Serbs overran two U.N.-protected zones, NATO vowed to make a "substantial and decisive response" to any Serb attack or threat against Gorazde. NATO ambassadors approved the contingency plans for allied bombing on July 26.But when a shell killed the girls in the Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia on Sunday, NATO did not retaliate.

"I wonder when the United Nations will stop closing its eyes and ask what must happen before the United Nations and NATO will respond adequately to this terrorism," Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey wrote in a letter to the U.N. Security Council, published Monday by Sarajevo's main newspaper, Oslobodjenje.

U.N. officials said the attack was not enough to warrant airstrikes.

"One shell, no matter how lethal, does not constitute an attack against a U.N. `safe area' which would merit a response from NATO," U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko said in Sarajevo.

A Western diplomat said no airstrikes were ordered in part because the United Nations did not want to endanger peacekeepers trying to withdraw from Gorazde.

Rebel Serbs have refused to let 90 Ukrainian peacekeepers withdraw from the enclave, and a convoy carrying their equipment has been stalled at the enclave's border for four days.

In other weekend developments:

- Government troops launched at least two offensives against rebel Serbs near Bihac, a U.N.-protected enclave in northwestern Bosnia, in an effort to link up with their Croat allies farther south.

- Shells slammed into Sarajevo on Sunday evening. Sniper fire in the center of town wounded a woman, and two 15-year-old girls were wounded by shells in the eastern part of the city, officials said.