SITUATION IN SREBRENICA ON 11 JULY 1995
The following article was published by The Bryan Times on 11 July 1995, the day of the fall of Srebrenica. This news report was located, scanned, re-typed from newspapers and then sent to us by the Bosniak and Jewish Solidarity. Thank you for your contribution.
"We will guarantee absolute safety for all people, including soldiers who surrender their weapons to us," a Bosnian Serb military spokesman, Lt. Col. Milovan Milutinovic." [Related: Radovan Karadzic OfferedFalse Safety Guarantees]Serbs troops seize U.N. 'safe heaven'
By: Srecko Latal
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Bosnian Serb troops today seized the last U.N. base in the "safe area" of Srebrenica, detaining as many as 40,000 mostly Muslim refugees huddled there with Dutch peacekeepers.
Neither the 400 peacekeepers nor the refugees offered resistance at midday when the Serbs took the base, two miles north of Srebrenica itself in the village of Potocari, said Lt. Col. Gary Coward, a U.N. spokesman.
Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic arrived on the heels of his infantry and ordered the refugees evacuated on 40 trucks he brought with him, Coward said. He agreed to let one peacekeeper accompany each truck.
The first 1,500 refugees left Potocari with their destination still unclear. Coward said the Serbs had earlier mentioned evacuating them to Kladanj, a government-held town about 25 miles west of Srebrencia.
U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko said the Serbs were separating the men over 16 from the other refugees and planned to take them to nearby Serb-held Bratunac, where they would be"screened for war crimes."
Serbs asked the United Nations to supply fuel for the evacuation of the refugees, but refused a U.N. offer of helicopters to evacuate about 70 people who were sick and wounded, Coward said.
It was not immediately known what would happen with the Dutch peacekeepers who remained in Potocari. Coward said some had been disarmed, but others still had their weapons.
The refugees and peace-keepers fled to Potocari on Tuesday ahead of advancing Serb forces who then overran Srebrenica, brushing off two NATO airstrikes and casting further doubt on the future of the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
Bosnia President Alija Izetbegovic demanded the resignation of Yasushi Akashi, the senior U.N. envoy in the former Yugoslavia, and restoration of the "safe area" of Srebrenica. He also said the Bosnian government might not agree to extend the U.N. mandate past November, when it expires.
Aid officials had worried about the estimated 40,000 refugees in Potocari since the U.N. compound, built to house 200, had not even enough food for the 400 peacekeepers crowded inside.
"This is a crisis," said Rida Ettarashany, a U.N. spokesman in Zagreb, Croatia. "There's very little they can do."
U.N. officials said the Serbs were searching among the refugees for men who had fought for the Bosnian government army.
"We will guarantee absolute safety for all people, including soldiers who surrender their weapons to us," a Bosnian Serb military spokesman, Lt. Col. Milovan Milutinovic, told The Associated Press.
Elsewhere in Bosnia, the Serbs overran two more U.N. observation posts Tuesday night and today, bringing the number of Dutch peacekeepers held hostage to 42.
The Serbs also attacked the U.N. safe haven of Zepa, nine miles southwest of Srebrenica, late Tuesday. About 90 Ukrainian peacekeepers are based there.
The United Nations established six safe havens in 1993 as enclaves where civilians were to be spared from attack. preserving them has been the principal mission of the peacekeepers.
The fall of Srebrenica on Tuesday marked the biggest failure of the U.N. mission in Bosnia in the 39-month war and prompted world leaders to question the future of the 23,000-member peacekeeping force.