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Serbs Artillery Hits Bosnian Cities

Serb gunners pounded two U.N.-protected cities on Monday, and the United Nations, apparently concerned for peacekeepers’ safety, rejected a request for NATO airstrikes.

Mortar blasts shook Sarajevo, a day after a Bosnian Serb mortar attack on a Sarajevo suburb killed 10 people. Hospital officials in government-held Tuzla in northern Bosnia said 13 people were hurt by two shells Monday.

Both cities are U.N.-declared “safe areas” which are supposed to be spared from attack. The U.N. forces in Bosnia have had little success ensuring the protection, however.

For the first time in months, U.N. officials confirmed that Bosnian Serb tanks fired on government positions, blasting off seven rounds north of Sarajevo in violation of the heavy weapons exclusion zone supposed to exist around the city.

But U.N. officials on Monday rejected a request from the U.N. commander in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. Rupert Smith, for NATO airstrikes against Bosnian Serb positions ringing the capital, U.S. officials said.

A U.S. official at the United Nations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said NATO jets were in the air when the decision not to strike was made.

Tags: briefly, war