Seemingly hamstrung by its own rules, and trying to maintain an image of impartiality in an increasingly murky conflict, the United Nations stood by helplessly Tuesday as Serb attacks killed six and wounded 38 in Sarajevo. Six of the wounded were United Nations peacekeepers.
Though it has a mandate to defend both the city and its own personnel from attacks, the United Nations found that the rules it has written for itself did not let it act.
And while it announced last week it would greatly expand the use of NATO war planes to retaliate against attacks on “safe areas” like Sarajevo, it said Tuesday the barrage of mortar and artillery shells and at least one rocket-propelled aircraft bomb did not fit its definition of attack.
The difficulty, said United Nations officials, is that most of the bombardment was in retaliation for a Bosnian government attack on a Serb ammunition factory near Sarajevo.