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Shelling of Sarajevo Market Kills 66; More Than 200 Wounded

By Tony Smith
Associated Press
Sunday, February 6, 1994; Page A01

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA, FEB. 5 -- A mortar shell landed in a crowded open-air market in Sarajevo today, killing at least 66 people and wounding more than 200. Horribly mangled bodies and severed limbs lay scattered amid bloodstained market stalls in the bloodiest single attack on Sarajevo's civilians since the war began 22 months ago.

"There are trucks of dead, there are legs, arms, heads -- as many as you want," said a wounded young man while waiting for care at Kosevo Hospital.

It was not immediately known who fired the shell into the Bosnian capital, which is under siege by Bosnian Serbs fighting the Muslim-led government. But President Alija Izetbegovic's spokesman, Kemal Muftic, charged that the 120mm mortar shell was fired from a Serb-held position north of Sarajevo.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, however, suggested that government soldiers had fired on their own people to persuade NATO to go ahead with threatened airstrikes on Serb positions. But there was no evidence to support his charge, which was dismissed by the Bosnian government.

"We see the shells coming from the hills," Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic told CNN. "This is a city under siege."

U.N. troops were analyzing the crater in an attempt to determine the shell's origin.

The attack came a day after 10 people were killed and 18 wounded in a mortar attack on Sarajevo's Dobrinja neighborhood that Lt. Gen. Michael Rose, the U.N. commander in Bosnia, blamed on Bosnian Serb gunners. Civilians have been targeted frequently since Sarajevo's siege began in April 1992, and in most cases U.N. officials have found Serbs responsible.

{In Washington, President Clinton denounced the slaughter and called on the United Nations to "urgently investigate" who was to blame. In a meeting he held with advisers, a senior administration official said, "sentiment" grew for bombing Serb positions. Story on Page A26.}

{Defense Secretary William J. Perry, in Munich for a European security conference, warned Serb gunners that Western airstrikes might be launched against them if the killing of civilians continues.

{"That will be certainly be considered. . . . President Clinton has already stated that we would not permit the strangulation of Sarajevo," Perry told reporters. "If the action which is being described today would be seen to be strangulation . . . we would definitely consider stronger action, including airstrikes."}

U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali condemned the "heinous act of violence" and ordered an investigation. Pope John Paul II urged world leaders "to try everything -- even if it means great sacrifices -- to bring about a cease-fire."

To the horrified bystanders at the Markale market, the question of who fired the shell today seemed less important than how it reflected the world community's impotence at ending the war.

"Thank you, Boutros-Ghali; thank you, Clinton," one man yelled.

Gen. Manojlo Milovanovic, the Bosnian Serb forces' chief of staff, demanded from U.N. commander Rose that Serbs be included on a commission to investigate the massacre. If they are not, Milovanovic said, the Serb supreme command would sever all cooperation with the U.N. force and all humanitarian organizations as of Monday.

Minutes after the shell struck, ambulances raced to and from the open market. The dead lay strewn beneath the tables as the wounded were rushed to hospitals. The air was filled with the voices of wailing survivors.

"It is a little difficult to identify the victims and the number of killed, because a lot of them are in pieces," morgue worker Alija Hodzic said.

Rescue workers dragged bodies and body parts away from collapsed market stalls on blankets and a piece of green canvas that looked like a stall cover. Bodies were loaded onto trucks and vans because there were not enough ambulances and morgue vehicles.

As the wounded were piling up in Kosevo Hospital, one man on a stretcher called out: "Help me. Why doesn't somebody help me?" Next to him a woman lay, already dead.

By evening, the death toll had risen to 66 and the number of wounded to 206, hospital workers said.

Gen. Andre Soubirou, the commander of U.N. forces in Sarajevo, visited the scene of the bloodbath and deplored the "terrible tragedy." Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the attack demonstrated "new depths in calculated barbarism."

After meeting with other Bosnian government officials, Izetbegovic said his negotiators will still take part in peace talks with Bosnian Serbs and Croats that are to resume Thursday in Geneva.

Vice President Ganic condemned the reluctance of the world to get more involved in the conflict. "They are monitoring genocide," he said of NATO aircraft that regularly fly over the capital. "It's almost obscene. . . . They fly over and do nothing."

Asked by CNN what he would like to tell Clinton after the massacre, Ganic referred to a Bosnian demand that the Muslim-led government be exempt from a U.N. arms embargo on the warring parties here. "Allow us to defend ourselves," he said.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting that broke out after Bosnia's Croats and Muslims voted in February 1992 to secede from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

Serbs now occupy about 70 percent of Bosnia. The peace talks have focused on various plans for carving the country into ethnic regions, but have repeatedly foundered on the government's insistence on more land for the Muslims, who formed 44 percent of the prewar population.

The shell that hit Sarajevo's open-air market yesterday killed more people than any earlier attack on civilians in the Serb-besieged Bosnian capital:

May 27, 1992: A mortar attack killed 16 people lining up for bread. The so-called Bread Line Massacre helped persuade the United Nations to impose sanctions on Serbian-led Yugoslavia.

June 1, 1993: Fifteen people were killed and more than 100 injured when mortar shells slammed into a crowd watching a soccer game near Sarajevo airport.

June 12, 1993: Eight mourners were killed in an artillery attack on a Muslim funeral at a cemetery in the city's central area.

June 27, 1993: An artillery shell killed seven young people, aged 4 to 22, in Sarajevo's old town.

Jan. 22, 1994: Two mortar shells killed six children sledding in a residential district near Serb lines.

Feb. 4, 1994: A mortar barrage killed 10 people lined up for food in a Sarajevo suburb.

© Copyright 1994 The Associated Press

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