Bosnian Serbs Form Human Chain
to Prevent Muslim Visits
MASTIKOSE, Bosnia, May 18 (Reuters) Hundreds of Bosnian Serbs formed a human chain on Saturday to prevent Muslims from visiting towns from which they were driven during Bosnia's 43-month war, witnesses said. Efforts to resettle refugees in homes in territory now controlled by wartime foes have foundered on the obstruction of local authorities bent on preserving "ethnically pure" domains in violation of the peace treaty signed last December.
Most attempts by Muslim exiles to cross inter-ethnic boundary lines merely to visit former homes or cemeteries have been blocked by Serbs. Riots have erupted in some cases and two Muslims were killed in one incident. On Saturday, a group of Muslims went by bus to the northwestern village of Milin Birt in Bosnian Croat-Muslim federation territory asking to cross over the nearby boundary line to visit Prijedor and Kozarac.
Alerted of the Muslims' arrival, Serbs in Mastikose on the Serb Republic side of the line formed a human chain to convey to NATO peacekeeping troops guarding the boundary that they would not let the Muslims pass, eyewitnesses reported. Troops of NATO's peace Implementation Force (IFOR) had already blocked off the access road with a tank and some armoured vehicles to avert possible clashes while negotiations on the problem were taken up.
Several hours of talks between Serb authorities in Prijedor and IFOR, the U.N.-led police monitoring force and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees officials failed to produce an agreement for the Muslims to visit. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA said one bus of Muslims would have been allowed to go to Kozarac to visit cemeteries if Muslim authorities had permitted a similar Serb visit to the nearby federation town of Sanski Most. But the Muslims rejected the deal, SRNA said. Serb protesters dispersed in mid-afternoon.
Berserkistan, May 17 · Muslims Cross Peacefully into Brcko
Berserkistan, May 13 · Peaceful Visit to Family Graves by Bosnian Croats
Berserkistan, May 10 · Serbs Slammed Over Attack on Refugees, Police, Media
Berserkistan, May 9 · Serbs Attack UN and Media Accompanying Muslims
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