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Fugitive Karadzic slips NATO net

NATO peacekeepers search vehicles at a checkpoint in Pale on Sunday.
NATO peacekeepers search vehicles at a checkpoint in Pale on Sunday.

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Radovan Karadzic
Bosnia and Herzegovina

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- NATO-led peacekeepers have been continuing their intensive search for indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic in a Bosnian Serb stronghold.

Troops were on Sunday acting on a tip that the fugitive was injured and had sought medical help in the town of Pale, Reuters reported.

But despite searching his house, it appeared that even if Karadzic had been in the town he had again slipped the net.

By Sunday night one Stabilization Force unit had arrested a man, according to Stabilization Force spokesman Dave Sullivan, but he declined to give any more details or even to link the operation with the search for Karadzic.

Sullivan told CNN the search began "on short notice" at 2 a.m. local time on Saturday.

"We received information that the person indicted for war crimes may have had a prior injury and this person might be seeking refuge in a hospital or similar medical facility," he said.

Another NATO spokesman described how Karadzic's wife, Ljiljana, had shown the peacekeepers around her house in Pale.

Lt. Matthew Brock told The Associated Press that Ljiljana was "cooperative and accompanied the soldiers while in the house." He added that the troops looked for documentation that could lead them to Karadzic.

Pale, in the mountains above Sarajevo, was a Serb stronghold during the bloody Bosnian war in the early 1990s.

In 1995, a peace accord signed in Dayton, Ohio, ended the war between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs. The conflict was Europe's most deadly since World War II. More than 200,000 people died.

According to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, 20 indicted suspects are still at large, including former Bosnian Serb President Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic.

The U.N. tribunal indicted the two men for the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995 and the siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people died.

The move by NATO is part of its stepped-up campaign to bring the wartime Bosnian Serb leader and genocide suspect to trial. (Karadzic profile)

The alliance is also targeting people who have enabled one of the world's most wanted men to remain a fugitive eight years after the war ended. The international community has frozen bank accounts and imposed visa restrictions on Karadzic and his support network.

Karadzic remains popular among nationalist Serbs, especially in the east Bosnian region, which is still politically controlled by hardliners.

Human rights activists have criticized NATO for failing to capture Karadzic and Mladic.

In August 2003, NATO forces took up positions outside the home of Karadzic's daughter in the Bosnian Serb wartime stronghold of Pale.

The NATO force failed to find Mladic during a raid on his mother's house after she died in August 2003.

Troops involved in Saturday's operation come from the United States, Germany, Italy, Hungary and other countries, Sullivan said.

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