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Shocked by Muslim Win, 10,000 Serb Civilians Flee

October 29, 1994|Times Wire Services

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Nearly 10,000 Serbian civilians have fled on foot, horse carts and tractors from Muslim-led troops in northwest Bosnia, stunned by the government's biggest victory in the 31-month-old war, relief officials said Friday.

About 8,000 sought refuge in schools and homes in the Serb-held town of Bosanski Petrovac, where international aid agencies are handing out food and blankets.

"They are completely shocked, stunned by the turn of events," said Peter Kessler, a spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the United States asked the Security Council on Friday to lift the U.N. arms embargo on Bosnia unless Bosnia's Serbs agree to an international plan to end the war.

U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright introduced the resolution, which would give the rebel Serbs six months to sign the peace plan or face the rearming of their enemies, the Bosnian government.

The Muslim-led Bosnian army, which has captured 80 square miles in four days of fighting east and southeast of Bihac, a U.N.-protected zone 140 miles northwest of Sarajevo, slowed its advance Friday, said Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, a U.N. peacekeeper spokesman.

The large number of refugees is the most telling evidence yet of the impact of the government's victory, which was not only the biggest single territorial gain but also a huge psychological blow.

Never before in the war have the Serbs been routed. Humbled by the defeat, even they have admitted suffering a severe setback.

The government, previously outgunned, capitalized on the decision of Serbia in August to stop supplying their brethren across the border with weapons and other support. Bosnian Serbs, short of fuel, have mounted few offensives since then.

The Serbs remain within artillery range of Bihac, which is held by the government. A shell hit there Thursday, wounding two civilians and damaging two houses, Spicer said.

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