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Punishment Sought For Ousting Refugees

Tue., Aug. 5, 1997

International officials Monday angrily demanded punishment for Croats who drove up to 500 Muslim refugees out of an area of central Bosnia and set several houses on fire.

Drunken Croats stoned U.N. and NATO forces during a rampage Sunday that ousted Muslims who had ventured back to the region around Jajce, a town bitterly contested during Bosnia’s 3-1/2-year war.

The refugees should be allowed to return within 48 hours, the top international mediator for Bosnia said.

In a letter to leaders of the Muslim-Croat federation that covers half of Bosnia, envoy Carlos Westendorp said there were indications Croat police were involved in the violence.

Westendorp’s letter, signed by representatives of the other international institutions in Bosnia, called Sunday’s violence “unacceptable” and demanded that those responsible be punished.

In Sarajevo Monday, the co-leaders of Bosnia’s weak central government, representing all three major ethnic groups, convened to resolve disputes on reopening civilian airports and whether to give Bosnian Serbs the right to grant citizenship to Serbs who fled Croatia. The leaders failed to agree on those and other provisions of joint statehood.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. official who spearheaded the Dayton peace accords, will work to resolve the feuds when he arrives in Bosnia today.

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