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NATO Blasts Bosnia on Islamic Fighters
'We Want to See Immediate Action' says NATO
After Itzebegovic Acknowledges Mujahadeen

(SARAJEVO, March 26—Reuters) The Bosnian government drew NATO criticism on Tuesday for still harboring Islamic fighters in violation of the Dayton peace accord, which requires all foreign forces to leave the country. "Despite public announcements to the contrary, it is still (NATO's) assessment that foreign forces remain in Bosnia in violation of the peace agreement," said Captain Mark Van Dyke, the senior NATO spokesman in Bosnia. "We're long past the deadline to remove these forces from the country. We want to see immediate action to remove those forces."

Alija Izetbegovic Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic acknowledged on Monday that 50 to 60 Islamic veterans of his country's 43-month war were still in residence but he said their military unit had disbanded and that they were now civilians. The government in Sarajevo previously said that many of these Islamic soldiers, known as mujahideen, have married local women and obtained Bosnian citizenship. NATO raided a "terrorist training camp" in central Bosnia in mid-February and detained three Iranian "instructors" who later left the country. Van Dyke said that "small groups" of foreign forces still operated in the country and that some were believed still to be engaged in military training.

The issue of foreign forces was just one of several that the NATO spokesman said continued to cloud generally-good compliance among the Bosnian parties with the Dayton peace agreement. "We're also concerned about the continued appearance of illegal (police) checkpoints, Van Dyke said. "The international community as recently as the Moscow meeting has spoken very clearly. Unless this issue and other violations of the peace agreement are resolved the parties will be subjected to increasing economic and political pressure." Prime ministers from the five major power sponsors of the Dayton peace process met in Moscow over the weekend and warned Bosnian leaders they would jeopardise billions of dollars in reconstruction aid by continuing to violate the accord.

The release of prisoners of war continued to be a problem on Tuesday, more than two months after all such detainees were to have been released under the terms of Dayton. The Bosnian government released 109 on Saturday, and the Bosnian Croats 10 on Monday. "It is very clear that since the Moscow meeting the only side not to have released anyone is the (Bosnian Serb Army) side," spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Bonefeld told reporters on Tuesday.

The Serbs are holding at least 28 prisoners, of whom they suspect five of being involved in war crimes. The Croats hold 40 war crimes suspects and the Bosnian government 28. Dayton allows for war crimes suspects to be held by the parties until the U.N. war crimes tribunal decides whether to indict them.

Additional resources
Iran Online
Mar 14 · U.S. Withholds Bosnian Arms Package Until Iranians Leave
Mar 8 · No Arms for Bosnia Until Iranians Depart
Mar 8 · Iranian Freedom Fighters Still in Iran
Mar 3 · In Tehran, Prime Mininster Says Bosnia Will Remember Iran
Feb 21 · Iranians Found in Bosnian "Terrorism School" Back in Iran

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