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Soldiers Hurt In Bosnia Wreck French Troops, Serb Police Investigate Rocket Attack

An American military fuel tanker overturned on a road in northern Bosnia on Wednesday, injuring two U.S. soldiers.

“The extent of their injuries is unclear,” said Peter Bulloch, a NATO spokesman in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The tanker did not explode in the accident, which occurred about 7 miles south of Tuzla, the northeastern city that is the Americans’ main base in Bosnia.

Both men were taken by helicopter to a U.S. field hospital in Tuzla, Bulloch said. Their names were not immediately released.

About 30 miles to the south, a U.S. Bradley armored vehicle hit an anti-personnel mine today. There were no injuries, but the vehicle was damaged, said Bulloch. The accident happened 10 miles southwest of the Sava River bridge that U.S. troops use to cross into Bosnia from Croatia.

U.S. Spc. Martin John Begosh suffered leg injuries in a mine blast in the same general area on Dec. 30. U.S. troops with the NATO mission patrol the area between the Sava and their headquarters at Tuzla, 40 miles to the south.

In Sarajevo, NATO spokesmen dismissed the Bosnian government’s call for retaliation for a deadly rocket attack Tuesday on a city streetcar, calling it a rogue act that will not stop the Bosnian peace process.

The attack killed one woman and wounded 19. It was the most serious act of violence since NATO took over peacekeeping duties in Bosnia from the United Nations last month.

The rocket that hit the Sarajevo streetcar was fired from the top floor of an apartment building in Grbavica, a Serb-held neighborhood near the city center, Capt. Frederic Solano, a spokesman for the NATO force, said today

NATO officials had originally identified the missile as a grenade and the victim as a man, but Bosnian Health Ministry officials said a 55-year-old woman, Mirsada Duric, was killed.

The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA reported that Bosnian Serb authorities “indignantly” denied that Serbs were to blame.

Col. Mark Rayner, a NATO spokesman, called the attack “an isolated, terrorist-like action.

“We don’t believe it had the backing of any authorities,” he said. “It was a senseless and mindless act, but it’s not going to stop the peace process.”

Defense Secretary William Perry today said the rocket attack was the kind of act the U.S. forces had expected to see from individuals unhappy with the peace treaty.

“What we are seeing here is what we expected to see, which is the actions of individual dissidents, gangs, and we will do everything we can to stop those actions,” Perry told reporters after an awards ceremony at the Pentagon.

“We expect to see that continue in the future,” Perry added. “One of NATO’s difficult tasks, but still very real tasks, is reducing that” kind of violence.

Bosnian Serb police assisted peacekeepers in their investigations.

Because the city remains a security risk, President Clinton will focus his weekend visit to Bosnia on the northern city of Tuzla, where the U.S. peacekeeping contingent is based, Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said, quoting American officials.

French soldiers sealed off a highrise in Grbavica on Tuesday and searched each floor for evidence of who fired on the streetcar, Solano said. During a second inspection this morning, they found a launch tube of the type used in Tuesday’s attack.

At the same time, NATO troops and U.N. civilian police re-enacted the attack, hauling the tram back to the spot where it was hit and having the driver explain what happened.

French troops also increased patrols along the main boulevard known as Sniper Alley, where the attack occurred.