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BUILDING PEACE IN THE BALKANS : British Set Up NATO Post Deep in Serb Territory : Bosnia: Townspeople of Banja Luka greet peacekeepers' arrival with mixed emotions.

December 27, 1995|RICHARD C. PADDOCK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Many Serbs recall their kinship during World War II with Britain and the United States, and they are bitter at a world view that casts their people as the aggressor in the Bosnian war.

Some are also upset that the new Serb Republic covers only 49% of Bosnian territory under the Dayton peace agreement; as recently as late summer, the Serbs controlled more than two-thirds of the country.

But they are also very tired of the war.

"I believe NATO will help a lot," said a 64-year-old woman who gave her name as Ljubinka. "The war will finally stop."

Since the war began, she said, Banja Luka has been a dangerous place, with many people carrying guns. Her grandson, she said, was shot on the street and wounded by one of his own countrymen.

"Even small children have guns and rifles," she said. "It's not safe to walk on the streets."

In order to survive, she said, she and her husband, Vlacko, were forced to sell their two cars and many other possessions. They are avid readers, but on their pension of about $30 a month they cannot even afford to buy a newspaper.

"The war is terrible," she said. "It was a very dirty war."

Standing on a corner watching the British tanks go by, a Serb soldier predicted that the NATO forces will have no problem enforcing peace in the Serb Republic.

"We are very hospitable people," said Vojko Ljuboja, 44.

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