(9 Oct 1995) English/Nat
The UN has confirmed NATO warplanes were sent to carry out strikes against Bosnian Serb positions after a refugee camp near Tuzla was hit by a cluster bomb.
But a UN spokeswoman said the jets failed to attack Serb targets due to bad weather conditions.
NATO warplanes were scrambled after the attack on the refugee camp in Zivinice.
U-N spokeswoman Myriam Sochacki said the attacks were judged to be a “significant threat to UN troops and personnel operating in the area”.
Even so, she said that poor weather forced the planes back to base without striking at Bosnian Serb position.
“This afternoon after the shelling in the Tuzla area and the shelling in Srebrenica resulting in a number of civilians casualties witnessed and reported by the UN, shelling in areas close to UN locations, UN commander for Bosnia Lieutenant General Rupert Smith requested close air support. NATO aircraft responded to this request and at 1500 they were in the area and attempted to locate and neutralise the heavy weapons suspected to have fired in the Tuzla area. We do judge that the shelling was a significant threat on the UN troops and UN personnel operating in the area. The NATO aircraft broke off the mission after 1800 – they were not able to identify the targets. There was real poor weather in the Tuzla area today and that is significant fact.”
(Question: Do you concede that the threat for your troops has been lifted already?)
“Well, we assess that the presence of the NATO aircraft may well have encouraged the Bosnian Serb army to end the shelling since there was no other shelling reported in the afternoon. And, in the course of the afternoon, the Bosnian Serb army was warned that these actions will result in NATO air attacks.”
(Question: So do you consider it likely to happen again tomorrow?)
“Well first of all, it was close air support in so far as there was a threat on the UN troops. This shelling did not happen in a safe area, so it was a self defence action. We hope that the Bosnian Serb army will understand our warning and will not jeopardise the peace process.”
SUPER CAPTION: Major Myriam Sochacki, UN spokeswoman
There have been repeated reports of Bosnian Serb air attacks recently, in violation of a UN no-fly zone over Bosnia.
NATO war planes have shot down such violators in the past.
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