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U.N. Threatens Air Strikes on Bosnian Government Forces

October 30, 1994| From Associated Press

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The U.N. peacekeeping force accused government forces of deliberately attacking French peacekeepers on Saturday and threatened to call for NATO air strikes if the attacks were repeated.

It was the most serious warning yet to the Muslim-led government army that it too could be hit by NATO air strikes, thus far directed only at the Bosnian Serbs.

Government forces were expanding their strongest offensive of the 31-month war, trapping hundreds of Bosnian Serb soldiers on a northwestern front and launching an attack on Serbs near Sarajevo.

The peacekeeping force, in a statement, said four rounds from a government army artillery piece landed 25 to 50 yards away from a French peacekeeper observation post on Saturday near the Javorak Valley, southwest of Sarajevo.

Peacekeepers were trying to monitor a government infantry and artillery attack on Bosnian Serb positions just south of a demilitarized zone on Mt. Igman, overlooking Sarajevo.

The U.N. force accused the government army of using the demilitarized zone to stage the attack on the Bosnian Serbs and of firing artillery from it. The government army denied the charge.

Col. Bertrand Labarsouque, a peacekeeper spokesman, said the shelling Saturday was considered a direct attack but that U.N. officials decided not to request an air strike.

In northwestern Bosnia, troops of the mostly Muslim government force surrounded the town of Bosanska Krupa, trapping several hundred Bosnian Serb soldiers, U.N. officials said. Government army sources said their troops had entered part of the town.

With a prewar population of about 20,000, Bosanska Krupa would be the largest Serb-held town to fall to the government.

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