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Prijedor Outwardly Calm After Latest “Ethnic Cleansing” Terror With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

April 4, 1994

PRIJEDOR, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Since her neighbors were killed last week, Djuka Filipovic has been afraid to leave her attic apartment in this Serb-held town.

Filipovic, a Serb, heard the shots from the ground floor where the Muslim couple and the wife’s sister-in-law died. ″They had received numerous phone threats, but were resolved to stay,″ said Filipovic.

Tensions lingered Monday in Prijedor, a northern Bosnian town where U.N. officials say Serb-backed attackers killed 20 Croats and Muslims last week in a new wave of ethnic terror.

At another victim’s house, a sign was pinned to the door - ″Dusan Reljic from Bugojno″ - apparently indicating the inhabitant was a Serb refugee who had laid claim to the now-vacant dwelling.

The Red Cross had announced plans to evacuate of thousands of terrified non-Serbs from Prijedor and nearby Banja Luka, both Serb-held areas about 110 miles northwest of Sarajevo.

But those plans were put on hold Monday after Bosnian Serbs refused to provide safety guarantees, said Andreas Kuhn, head of the Red Cross mission in Bosnia.

After a lengthy meeting with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Pale, just southeast of Sarajevo, Kuhn said there simply was no agreement on procedures.

″We are still committed to the evacuation of these people,″ he said, but there was little chance the evacuation could take place without Serb cooperation.

Kuhn said Karadzic told him a major evacuation was unnecessary because the situation ″would improve daily″ with the deployment of more local police.

All three warring factions in Bosnia been accused of engaging in ″ethnic cleansing″ - the use of murder or terror to drive out rival groups, but Serbs are widely blamed for the worst excesses.

Prijedor and Banja Luka were among the earliest sites of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia’s 2-year war.

The Prijedor region had a prewar population of about 112,000, including about 45,000 Slavic Muslims. U.N. aid officials say about l6,000 Muslims remain.

Prijedor Police Chief Bogdan Delic said last week’s ″incident″ may have been in retaliation for the deaths of six Serb policemen in Bihac to the west, where Serb and Muslim-led government forces have fought recently.

Locals were infuriated when it was discovered that the bodies had been mutilated, he said.

Serb officials at first denied there were any ethnically motivated killings, but Karadzic later promised a full investigation.

Local U.N. aid official Peter Deck said the town had been relatively quiet for the last few days, and there were few signs of police patroling the streets.

But Prijedor mayor Dusan Kurnoga said tensions could flare into violence at any time.

″It would be good that these people get completely divided, physically divided by a sort of Chinese wall,″ he said.

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