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Serbs Threaten To Shoot Down U.N. Copters

U.N. peacekeepers squared off against Bosnian Serb troops on a key Sarajevo road Friday as the Serbs blocked access to the besieged city and kept their guns trained on a suburb.

Bosnian Serbs also threatened to shoot down any U.N. helicopters that fly over Serb-held territory after a U.N. chopper did just that without clearance.

“I expect in the next few weeks a further deterioration of relations between us and the U.N.,” Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told reporters in Pale, his headquarters east of Sarajevo.

Fighting has grown in recent weeks with the collapse of a Dec. 31 truce that - like dozens before it - had never been fully obeyed.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who brokered the truce, said in Atlanta he would return to Bosnia if asked by both warring parties. But both sides have said they will not extend the truce, which formally expires May 1.

The upward spiral of violence has sharpened longstanding Serb mistrust of the U.N. presence in Bosnia, 70 percent of which is in Serb hands.

Tensions were fed Thursday night when French peacekeepers near Sarajevo asked for two NATO warplanes to buzz Serb positions in a show of force. Earlier, peacekeepers on Mount Igman, which overlooks Sarajevo, exchanged heavy weapons fire with Serbs for several hours to force them to stop shooting at a government-held supply road.

Tags: war