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1994: Market massacre in Sarajevo

VIDEO : Nato ready to act over Sarajevo massacre

A mortar bomb has exploded in the main market square in Sarajevo killing 68 and wounding 200 people.

It is the worst single atrocity in the 22-month old conflict between Bosnia's Serbs, Muslims and Croats.

UN inspectors are examining the crater left by the bomb to determine where it came from, but it is widely believed the Serbian forces besieging the city launched it.

The single 120mm shell landed on a stall in the packed open-air market just before noon leaving Muslims and Serbs dead and injured.

"Some people were literally torn apart. Heads and limbs were ripped off bodies," said one eyewitness.

Kosevo hospital was inundated with victims carried by ambulance, car and lorry, some of them wrapped in the canvas used on the market stalls.

The attack came on the day Bosnian Serb, Muslim and Croatian leaders were meeting in the city to discuss its future.

Peace envoy David Owen said: "We had reached the point where Bosnian Serbs were ready to take Sarajevo outside an overall peace settlement to try to demilitarise it.

"I am absolutely determined it is not aborted."

The mainly Muslim Bosnian Government immediately accused the Serbs of the shelling.

Information minister for the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic, Miroslav Toholj, denied the charges and blamed the Muslims, saying, "Serbs don't kill civilians".

The Bosnian Serb army has threatened to prevent UN aid distribution unless accusations against them are dropped.

This latest attack came after allied peacekeepers - under new commander General Sir Michael Rose - have taken a stronger line against Serbian aggression.

Altogether 200,000 people have died so far in the war*. Food queues and markets have already been targeted.

A mortar killed 16 people queuing for bread in Sarajevo in May 1992.

The western response will be decided at meetings of Nato and the UN over the next few days.

*In Context
The UN could not prove where the mortar came from and the US was unwilling to strike against the Serbs without evidence.

On 10 February Nato - with UN authorisation - gave the Bosnian Serbs a 10-day ultimatum either to withdraw their artillery to 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) outside Sarajevo or place it under UN control or face air strikes.

Shelling by the Serbs decreased and Nato lifted their threat even though the Serbs had failed to fully meet the deadline.

By the end of the year former US president Jimmy Carter brokered a fragile ceasefire.

But it took until December 1995 for a final peace to be agreed at Dayton, Ohio.

In 2007 an independent study, funded mainly by the Norwegian government, reported that at least 97,207 people were killed in the Bosnian war, fewer than had been estimated.


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