HEAVY fighting raged today for the fifth day running around the Croat-held Orasje pocket bordering a vital Serb corridor in northern Bosnia, local and United Nations sources reported.
Loading article content
UN military observers in the area recorded some 2000 detonations and said Bosnian Croats had fired 60 rockets on the Bosnian Serb territory since the morning.
Iljo Dominkovic, spokesman for the Bosnian Croat forces in Orasje, told Reuters in a telephone interview that the pocket ''has seen one of the worst days of fighting.''
He said some 5000 shells and two Russian-made Luna-type ground-to-ground missiles hit Croat defence lines. The fiercest battle was for control of the village of Vidovice, on the eastern part of the pocket.
Dominkovic said Bosnian Serbs attempted a combined tank and infantry attack from three directions, using 10 tanks, several APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers), and several hundred soldiers, but the attack was repelled.
''There have also been hand-to-hand fighting, but our troops managed to keep the defence lines, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy,'' he said.
Dominkovic said four Serb tanks and an armoured personnel carrier were destroyed while more than 50 Serb soldiers have been killed.
Two Bosnian Croat soldiers were killed and another five wounded in the fighting. There was no independent confirmation of Dominkovic's report.
The Croatian news agency Hina said Bosnian Serb forces shelled the town of Zupanja and the village of Bosnjaci in eastern Croatia, causing much damage. It said there were no reports of casualties.
The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA said that Croatian forces had been shelling the Bosnian Serb port town of Brcko from their positions in Rajevo Selo and Podgajci Posavski in Croatia. It said Orasje Croats fired six rockets on the town.
SRNA said Brcko sustained ''substantial damage'' but reported no casualties.
The Bosnian Croat news agency, quoting local military sources, said Bosnian Serbs were shelling civilian targets in Orasje and were attempting to pierce the Croat defence lines on the western edge of the pocket.
The Orasje pocket forms a troublesome Croat bridgehead south of the river Sava, close to a vital Serb corridor linking separatist Serb enclaves in Croatia and Bosnia with Serbia, their only supply source.
Bosnian Serbs apparently want to widen the corridor in preparation for decisive battles elsewhere in Bosnia and Croatia, local Croat and UN sources said.
The corridor, reported closed for a brief period yesterday because of fighting, reopened today, SRNA said.
* More than 200 Muslims were expelled from territory by Serbs in northern Bosnia yesterday, government television reported today.
The nightly television news broadcast said 208 civilians were bussed across the front line into government territory at Turbe, west of Travnik.
Another 40 Muslim men reportedly had been removed from the buses by Bosnian Serb army authorities in nearby Donji Vakuf.
These men were said to have paid Serb authorities 500 German marks ($350) for the right to leave their homes, suggesting that at least some of the refugees may have requested to leave Serb-held territory.