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Thursday, December 18, 1997 Published at 13:30 GMT


Nato troops seize war crimes suspects in Bosnia

SFOR troops in Bosnia fought a gun battle with the war crimes suspects

BBC Correspondent Karen Coleman discusses the arrests in Bosnia (1'37")
Nato-led forces in Bosnia-Hercegovina have seized two Bosnian Croat men wanted by the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

They were seized following a gun battle early on Thursday morning.

The two men were named as Vlatko Kupreskic, who is charged with murdering a Muslim family and then burning down their house, and Anco Frundzija.

Kupreskic was shot three times in the shoulder, arm and leg, during a gun battle after resisting arrest and was taken to hospital, said a Nato spokesman.

Frundzija was taken straight to The Hague where he was placed in prison to await trial. Details of the charges against him have not been released.

The operation, which used Dutch marines and paratroops, took place near the town of Vitez, some 30 miles north-west of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. No Nato troops were injured in the mission.

[ image: Javier Solana: detentions a warning to suspected war criminals]
Javier Solana: detentions a warning to suspected war criminals
In Brussels, the Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana, said the arrests sent a warning to all alleged war criminals still at large in the former Yugoslavia that they should surrender immediately.

"As has been the case throughout the IFOR and SFOR (peacekeeping) missions, we will not tolerate any behaviour by any party contrary to the peace agreement."

Mr Solana also thanked the troops for their "professionalism and dedication" in carrying out the action.

Earlier, officials in Washington said President Clinton had decided to keep American peace-keeping troops in Bosnia beyond next June when their mandate is due to expire.

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