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Muslims, Croats Fight On; U.N. Notes Atrocities

April 22, 1993| From Associated Press

TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bitter fighting between Muslims and Croats raged Wednesday in central Bosnia despite a truce, deepening the ethnic fissures of the yearlong Bosnian war. U.N. officials accused the former allies of committing wanton murders in "ethnic cleansing" operations.

The battles have fractured the central region into myriad fronts, further diminishing hopes that a U.N. peace plan for the warring Serbs, Muslims and Croats will come to fruition.

Meanwhile, U.N. officials announced they have completed disarming of the Muslim defenders of Srebrenica and said a cease-fire was holding around the eastern town ringed by Serbs. Peacekeepers had asked for an extra three days to gather the arms, but Serbian leaders demanded the process be completed by noon Wednesday.

The U.N. Security Council decided to dispatch a five-nation fact-finding mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina today, primarily to investigate Srebrenica, which the world body declared a sanctuary last week.

The council also was preparing a statement saying it was "appalled by reports of the atrocities and killings of civilian population" in central Bosnia, where a truce reached Tuesday failed to stop a sixth day of combat.

U.N. observers estimated that at least 250 people have died.

Col. Bob Stewart, commanding British peacekeepers on U.N. duty, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that his troops witnessed "children held in the arms of their mothers and shot."

"Whole families have most certainly been killed," Stewart said.

Cedric Thornberry, deputy head of the U.N. mission in the former Yugoslav republics, said executions and massacres were committed by both factions.

Muslims and Croats have been nominal allies against the Serbs since Bosnia seceded from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia 14 months ago, but they have periodically battled over territory. More than 134,000 people have been killed or are missing since the war broke out.

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