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1991: Yugoslav troops move against Slovenia

Yugoslav tanks, troops and aircraft have swept into the small republic of Slovenia, 48 hours after it declared independence.

Federal forces moved to seize control of border crossing points with Italy, Austria and Hungary and launched an assault on the airport near the province's capital, Ljubljana.

More government tanks rolled into a town in neighbouring Croatia, which is also seeking independence. At least seven people have died and 100 have been reported injured in the clashes so far.

The Slovene administration has rejected a call by the Yugoslav prime minister for a three-month truce to allow negotiations to take place, demanding troops be withdrawn first.


"All resistance will be broken"

General Konrad Kolsek

Road access to the capital has been blocked by police and paramilitary forces from the self-declared state. The government in Ljubljana said they had seized or destroyed 15 tanks and shot down six helicopters.

"There is war in Slovenia - there are conflicts in at least 20 places," said Defence Minister Janez Jansa.

The British Government condemned the use of force in the country and called for dialogue between the two sides.

But a spokesman for the Yugoslav defence ministry warned the federal army would "carry out its obligations to the end, regardless of the type of resistance".

A message from the military commander of the district, General Konrad Kolsek, to Ljubljana stated clearly his mission was to re-establish federal control over the province.

"The order will be executed unconditionally - we shall proceed according to the rules of combat... All resistance will be broken," it said.

In Context
Communist Yugoslavia was formed by Marshall Tito in 1945.

He dealt with nationalist aspirations by creating a federation of six republics: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia.

But ethnic tensions where never far from the surface. Although the federation held together for 10 years after Tito's death in 1980, it fell apart rapidly after Slovenia's declaration of independence.

Croatia and Bosnia followed soon after, but at the cost of a renewed battle with the Serbs - who wanted to build a greater Serbia.

A bitter conflict developed, characterised by huge numbers of refugees, ethnic hatred and atrocities committed by all sides.

An uneasy peace was only achieved in December 1995 with the Dayton Accord.

The state union of Serbia and Montenegro was all that remained of the federation of six republics that made up former Yugoslavia - but in a referendum on 21 May 2006, Montenegro narrowly voted for independence from Serbia.


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