Sadeta Mehanovic Brutalized for Hours by Killers.
Situation in Grbavica is 'Out of Control' says U.N.
(SARAJEVO, March 9Reuters) Sadeta Mehanovic endured hours of brutality before armed men who broke into her flat in a Serb- held Sarajevo neighborhood shot and killed her this week, U.N. officials said on Saturday. The 65-year-old Muslim woman survived 43-months of war living behind Serb lines only to be murdered nearly three months after the Bosnian peace agreement was signed.
Her death, while an isolated incident, illustrated the risk to several hundred non-Serbs living in the inner-city neighborhood of Grbavica, a lawless district being handed over from Bosnia's Serb Republic to its Muslim-Croat federation on March 19th.
"The situation on the ground in Grbavica is extremely difficult and is out of control," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Kris Janowski said on Saturday. "There is no law and order."
Woman Screamed for Hours
Neighbors of the murdered woman told reporters and U.N. workers they cowered in their flats as the woman screamed through a drawn-out beating until two shots rang out, ending her agony. Sadeta Mehanovic's body was removed by parties unknown, but bloody bits of the woman's scalp and skull remain splattered on the wall and ceiling of her ransacked flat.
The few Serb police still on duty in Grbavica are either unwilling or unable to prevent such attacks. Arson is becoming more widesrpead in the neighborhood, which no longer has any fire-fighting capability. One U.N. policeman had to use a garden hose and snow on Friday to prevent his house from catching fire after the neighboring structure was set alight and burned.
Individual aid workers and unarmed U.N. police monitors working in Grbavica said the only solution would be to substantially increase the presence of NATO troops on the streets.
NATO Says Intervention would be 'Draconian'
But NATO officers rejected suggestions that Grbavica was spinning out of control and doubted the wisdom of imposing military control over the area. "You're implying that we might wish to impose at the moment what amounts to military or martial law in Grbavica," NATO spokesman Keith Popel said. "It would be a significant step, a draconian step, even, to put soldiers on the streets to prevent the kind of lawlessness to which you are referring." "We also have... no evidence at all that Grbavica is in a state of civil insurrection, that the population is fearing for its lives (or) for its property regularly.''
Reporters were unable to reconcile NATO's version of events with their own eyewitness assessments and those of aid workers and U.N. police in the area.
"The threat of fire is a great worry because people could be trapped in the higher buildings and of course there are groups of young men going around in the evening shouting 'we're going to kill you' to some residents," said a U.N. aid worker in Grbavica who asked not to be named. "We've requested that protection be stepped up. The fact that the beating and murder (of Sadeta Mehanovic) this week went on for hours and neighbors felt helpless to do anything or go to the police indicates how far things have deteriorated."
Grbavica will be the last of five Sarajevo suburbs transferred to federation control. Three have already changed hands and a fourth, Ilidza, is scheduled to come under Muslim- Croat domain on Tuesday. A series of fires have been lit in Ilidza, another area where the U.N. also speaks of a breakdown in law and order.
"In the past week more than 20 houses have been torched as well as an elementary school and police station," U.N. police spokesman Alexander Ivanko said on Saturday. "The local police, in the opinion of U.N. civil affairs, are incapable of dealing with the situation."
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