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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Priest 'in coma' after Nato raid
British troops
Nato-led troops have staged a series of unsuccessful Karadzic raids
A Serbian Orthodox priest and his son, injured in a Nato hunt for war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, were reported to be in a coma on Friday.

Father Jeremia Starovlah and his 28-year-old son Aleksandar were on life support machines with head injuries, a doctor told French news agency AFP.

The two were injured when Nato-led troops used explosives to raid their home in the Bosnian Serb town of Pale.

The Nato-led force in Bosnia, S-For, says it will carry out a review of the operation.

The priest and his son were taken by helicopter to hospital in Tuzla after the raid, which failed to find Mr Karadzic.

An elderly supporter in the national Serbian cap holds up a photo of Radovan Karadzic
The raid sparked a protest by Karadzic supporters
"They remain in a coma. They are still on life-supporting machines," the doctor, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

The injuries to the priest and his son have angered Bosnian Serbs.

Some 2,000 angry demonstrators staged a protest in Pale on Thursday, chanting "fascists".

About 40 troops from the US, Britain and other nations took part in the raid.

The Nato review will get under way shortly, said a spokesman for the Nato force in Bosnia.

"We take any operation which involves injury to civilians, or indeed to soldiers, as warranting further investigation," an S-For spokesman told BBC News Online.

He said the troops used the force necessary to get through the priest's door "in proportion to the perceived threat".

The crime of terrorism is... even more serious as it has been perpetrated by those who present themselves as the main fighters against terrorism
Bosnian Serb statement
The Serb Orthodox Church in Bosnia has responded to the dawn raid with anger, calling the operation "terrorism" and saying co-operation with international bodies would be withdrawn unless the troops involved were punished.

"The crime of terrorism is... even more serious as it has been perpetrated by those who present themselves as the main fighters against terrorism," said a statement from the Orthodox diocese of Dabrobosanska, quoted by SRNA news agency.

The Bosnian Serb authorities also demanded an inquiry into the S-For operation and the "behaviour of its soldiers and to judge their responsibility in the injury of innocent civilians."

Mr Karadzic has been wanted since 1996 when he was indicted by the Hague war crimes tribunal on charges including genocide.

They can keep hiding, but they cannot run forever,
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Nato chief
A string of raids has failed to find him. His wife is taking legal action against Nato after a raid on her home earlier this year.

Tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte has repeatedly accused the Bosnian Serb authorities, the military and some members of the Serb Orthodox church of helping Karadzic evade arrest.

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the latest failed raid would not deter Nato from its search for Mr Karadzic and other top suspects.

"They can keep hiding, but they cannot run forever," he said.

"I would have preferred of course for this operation to be a success," he said.

"But everybody's doing everything he or she can to get them, because I think it's important for the region that they should go where they should be - to the international tribunal at The Hague."

Press anger at Karadzic raid
02 Apr 04  |  Europe
Serbs slam Nato Karadzic raid
01 Apr 04  |  Europe
Q&A: The hunt for Karadzic
01 Apr 04  |  Europe
Profile: Radovan Karadzic
20 Feb 04  |  Europe

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