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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 15:50 GMT
Dubrovnik marks shelling anniversary
Dubrovnik was under fire for several months in 1991
By Alix Kroeger in Dubrovnik

The Croatian walled city of Dubrovnik is marking the 10th anniversary of the shelling which destroyed parts of its historic centre.

Dubrovnik came under siege from the Yugoslav army and navy in October 1991, but the worst shelling took place on 6 December.

Two retired Yugoslav military officers have now surrendered themselves to the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague on charges relating to the siege.

The commemorative events include ceremonies to honour the defenders of Dubrovnik, particularly the firefighters who were killed as they tried to put out blazes caused by the shelling.

The siege

For the people of Dubrovnik 6 December is also the day they honour St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Christmas and also of sailors.

Today the city is again a popular tourist attraction

On that day 10 years ago, Marko Breskovic was delivering St. Nicholas Day oranges to the children of the area when he saw the fires from the shelling start in the old city.

Dubrovnik had been without running water for weeks, so he and a friend appropriated an old pump to douse some of the flames with sea water.

The city's clock tower was among the building's damaged. It stopped chiming, but only for a day.

Members of the Krasovac family - who had maintained the clock for four generations - continued to risk their lives to keep it ringing during the siege, creeping out every two days to wind it up by hand.

Today most of the external damage done to the city has been repaired.

Dubrovnik's status as a Unesco World Heritage Site ensured it attracted international funds.

But many of the buildings remain gutted inside and the bright red of the new roof tiles bears mute testimony to the destruction of 10 years ago.

Tourism is once again the mainstay of the city's economy, but now the souvenir shops sell videos of the war alongside postcards and tee-shirts.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | Europe
Dubrovnik siege suspects named
02 Mar 01 | Europe
Charges over Dubrovnik bombing
02 Mar 01 | Europe
Battle to save world treasures
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