Pushing to wring concessions from weakened rebel Serbs, the government vowed to keep attacking Serb-held territory Monday even while claiming progress on a power-sharing deal to keep postwar Bosnia from unraveling.
A day before peace talks were to convene in New York, a spokesman for the Bosnian army gave no sign that a cease-fire was in the works. “Until peace is achieved, our forces will continue offensive actions,” Col. Ferid Buljubasic said.
The Muslim-led government and its Croat allies shelled a vital Serb corridor in northern Bosnia Sunday in response to Serb troop and military equipment movement through the area, said Lt. Col. Chris Vernon, a U.N. spokesman.
Vernon said the anti-Serb alliance could be preparing to try to cut the corridor, which would completely isolate Serb-held territory centered on Banja Luka in the northwest. Serbs have lost heavily in that region in recent weeks but retain sizable holdings.
The rebel Serbs have heavy defenses along the strip, Vernon said, adding that the Muslim-Croat allies “would have a very big fight on their hands” if they tried to take it.
At talks in Geneva on Sept. 8, both sides agreed to an ethnic division that would give the Muslim-Croat alliance 51 percent of Bosnia and the Serbs 49 percent.
At the time, Serb acceptance of that percentage was considered key as the Serbs had held nearly 70 percent of Bosnia since shortly after war began in April 1992.
However, the Serbs have suffered significant battlefield losses since NATO warplanes bombed their positions as punishment for attacks on Sarajevo.