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Bosnian Troops Accused of Raping, Killing Civilians

August 25, 1994| From Reuters

TURANJ, Croatia — Muslim-led Bosnian government troops raped and killed civilians and looted and burned houses when they captured the rebel Muslim enclave of Bihac in northwestern Bosnia, refugee survivors alleged Wednesday.

A Polish U.N. officer confirmed that he saw troops of the Bosnian army's Fifth Corps fire at a group of refugees who escaped from the rebel stronghold of Velika Kladusa over the weekend.

"I cannot say anyone got killed in the shooting, but there were at least 20 wounded, all with leg injuries," said Lt. Col. Wojciech Akasamit. Some of those hit were wearing uniforms but none was armed, he said.

Refugees packing makeshift camps where food and water are scarce blamed the behavior of government troops for their refusal to return home despite the urging of U.N. aid officials and the Croatian and Bosnian governments.

But accusations that the United Nations had covered up atrocities were denied by a U.N. spokesman in Zagreb.

"There is certainly no cover-up on the part of the U.N.," said the official, who declined to be named. "We are very concerned about any human rights abuses. We heard allegations of abuses, but none of the reports were confirmed."

Up to 30,000 refugees from Bihac are stranded in camps in the self-declared Republic of Serbian Krajina, and at the Turanj checkpoint in the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone between Croatia and the republic.

"Our truth cannot get through to the world," said Fatima Stulanovic, 53, from Velika Kladusa.

Some refugees said that Sunday morning, when the exodus began, the Fifth Corps cut off the main road south of Velika Kladusa and shot and killed several civilians in the panic that followed.

Both the Bosnian and Croatian governments, together with the United Nations, have urged the refugees to return home, assuring them that they will face no reprisals.

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