Eleven armored carriers from the NATO peace force, backed by a helicopter, massed near the home of ousted Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on Saturday in a show of force against Bosnia’s No. 1 war crimes suspect.
The deployment of French and Italian troops came amid intensified anti-NATO sentiment in Bosnia after a July 10 raid on two Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects. An American soldier was slightly injured in one of four overnight explosions - the latest in a series targeting foreigners in Serb territory.
The brief NATO movement in Pale, Karadzic’s mountain stronghold southeast of Sarajevo, prompted several nervous residents to leave their homes, looking curiously at the armored vehicles.
“Go back to Sarajevo!” one woman shouted at the troops.
Soldiers refused to comment on their activity, and it was not known if Karadzic was home at the time.
Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs during their 3-1/2-year war, is wanted on two charges of genocide by a U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. Though NATO forces have said they would arrest war crimes suspects only if they came across them, they arrested one Serb suspect and killed another in the raid in the northwestern town of Prijedor.
The Italian and French carriers grouped on a main road out of Pale, near the local headquarters of U.N. police and about 600 yards from Karadzic’s house.
Five of the armored personnel carriers drove up a narrow road that took them within 50 yards of the house, which is well guarded and reportedly surrounded by a minefield.