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  Bosnia's Serb Minority Claims Creation of Independent State

By Laura Silber
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, April 8, 1992; Page A19

BELGRADE, APRIL 7 -- Militant Serb nationalists in Bosnia-Hercegovina announced creation of their own independent state today after resigning from the republic's collective leadership amid deepening political confusion in the ethnically polarized former Yugoslav republic.

Declaration of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia followed decisions by the United States and the European Community to recognize the entire republic of Bosnia -- which includes Slavic Muslims, Croats and Serbs -- as independent from the Yugoslav federation, now reduced to an alliance between the republics of Serbia and Montenegro. The United States also extended recognition today to the breakaway Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia, which the EC recognized in January.

{In New York, the U.N. Security Council gave the go-ahead Tuesday for speedy deployment of a 14,000-member U.N. force to halt nine months of bloody ethnic warfare between Serbs and Croats in Croatia, the Reuter news service reported. Thus far, only about 1,500 U.N. peace-keepers have arrived in combat areas.}

Hours before the Bosnian political split, warplanes of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav air force attacked two predominantly Croat towns in western Bosnia, Listica and Citluk. Local authorities said five people died in the attacks, which the air force said were directed against "hostile military targets."

Bosnian radio also reported fierce clashes between Croats and Serbs around the city of Mostar, near the Adriatic Sea, and army spokesmen said the airport there seemed to be a focus of the fighting.

Leaders of the newly declared Serb Republic -- a region whose boundaries they did not define -- said the enclave would join Serbia and Montenegro as part of a revamped Yugoslavia. Dozens of Muslims, Serbs and Croats died in fighting over the past week in disputes over Bosnia's political future. Most Serbs, who make up a third of the republic's 4.4 million population, oppose an independent Bosnia, while Muslims and Croats, who account for 61 percent, support it.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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