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JOYOUS HUGS BRING UNITY AMID A STILL-DIVIDED LAND

They didn't speak, they didn't move. They just stood and hugged each other.

Standing at the midpoint of a 21/2-mile no man's land that divides former enemies, Jozef Zier embraced his daughter and grand-daughter for the first time since the former Yugoslavia fell apart in war.As the 65-year-old man held onto Natasha and 6-year-old Amanda, there were no worries about the rain, ruined homes or surrounding minefields.

After a long moment in one another's arms, they moved out of the shower and into Zier's car, which was parked near a checkpoint of the NATO-led peace force.

"I feel like I'm born again," Zier said, suppressing sobs.

His Serb wife held their granddaughter in her arms, occasionally kissing Amanda's cheeks. She smiled as she looked and looked at the girl.

Outside Zier's car, three Muslim men who had accompanied Natasha to the rendezvous stared at the Yugoslav-made Zastava, eyeing its Serb Cyrillic license plates suspiciously.

That suspicion was fueled by four years of a war that caught the Ziers on different sides of enemy lines and ripped apart a family that itself had been a multi-ethnic microcosm.

Zier is of Czech and German lineage. His wife works for the Bosnian Serb army in Doboj, his hometown six miles west of this Muslim village in the separation zone.

His older son was fighting for the Bosnian Serb army. During the 1991 Croatian war, another son was seriously wounded by Serb shelling while fighting for the Croatian army and now lives in Croatia.

Natasha, now 29, married a Muslim and had left Doboj when the war began. Last year, her husband died while fighting for the Bosnian army.

Since the war cut off all communications, the only word Zier had received of his daughter was through messages sent via the Red Cross.

On Monday, he could wait no longer to see her. He drove right up to the former front line and asked Polish peacekeepers manning the checkpoint to send a crew to the nearby village to look for his daughter.

Soon after, she arrived.

"I would never dare to cross over to the (Muslim-Croat) federation territory," Zier said. "The fighting lasted for too long to be forgotten so soon."

He also worried that Serbs back home in Doboj might not like the fact that he had gone to the front line.

"Only fatherly love could bring me here," he said.

Zier couldn't say how long the reunion would last. He had asked Natasha to join him in Doboj, but wasn't sure she would accept.

"The war ruined my family," Zier said, his voice trembling, his hands gesturing hopelessly in the air.

"And only God knows if we'll ever be a normal family again."