CNN Balkan Conflict News

Bosnian Croats resume burning houses

December 2, 1995
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EST (0445 GMT)

Mrkonjic Grad

GORNJI VAKUF, Bosnia (CNN) - Bosnian Croat militia forces ransacked and torched houses in areas scheduled to return to the Serbs despite earlier assurances by their leaders that the destruction would stop, the United Nations said Saturday.

An entire village was burnt to the ground near the town of Mrkonjic Grad. The town was pillaged earlier this week by Croat forces enraged that the Serbs had won back the region under the Dayton, Ohio, peace accord.

U.N. spokesperson Chris Vernon said 20 buildings were burning in the region of Sipovo at the time when the Bosnian Croat militia had deployed additional troops in the sector.

U.N. personnel said they saw other fires across the area. Some occurred while Bosnian Croat soldiers watched, belying claims of official disapproval, U.N. personnel said.

After the local Bosnian Coat militia denied they were trying to raze the area and promised to rein in "rogue" elements, the burning appeared to abate.

The United Nations had assessed Wednesday that the Bosnian Croats were more interested in systematically looting the area than in burning property.

"The fact we're seeing (militia) soldiers stand by watching the fires burning is not consistent with attempts to halt the blazes," said Alun Roberts, a U.N. spokesperson. "As time goes by the pledges of increased security seem more and more feeble."

The United Nations also complained that British reconnaissance units were being kept out of Mrkonjic Grad and other restrictions were being placed on their movement.

"They (the militia) are very nervous of the U.N. moving around," Roberts said.

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From Reuters news service


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